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Mti;iritJi»«i«^'-  %mai- 

Date  Due 

Ainnrf'h.  ) 

'■^\hu  *y  -■], 

— fi%u\i — &a~ 


MAT  3  1  '8!' 



Llbrcr;  Bure«u  C^t.  no.  1137 


General  Editor  :  Ernest  Newman 








METHUEN    &   GO. 

36    ESSEX    STREET    W.C. 



First  Published    .     .     October  yth  igog 
Seco7id  Edition    .     .  igio 


To  the  inquiring  student  the  ebb  and  flow  of  fashion 
in  the  world  of  music  present  phenomena  of  re- 
markable interest.  The  stone  that  the  builders  rejected 
becomes  the  head  of  the  corner,  and  the  idol  of  one  age 
is  trodden  under  foot  by  the  next.  A  mute  antagonism 
reigns  between  one  generation  and  another,  and  the  sons 
delight  in  nothing  so  much  as  in  consigning  the  cherished 
treasures  of  their  fathers  to  the  dust-heap.  This  is  the 
rough-and-ready  process  by  which  immortality,  or  what, 
according  to  Mr.  Arthur  Balfour,  passes  for  such  in  the 
world  of  music,  is  ultimately  achieved,  and  even  the 
greatest  composers  have  to  submit  to  it.  For  a  musician 
to  please  his  own  age  is  no  very  severe  test.  At  any 
given  point  in  the  history  of  music  successful  composers 
may  be  counted  by  the  hundred.  But  their  day  is  brief. 
Fashion  turns  her  wheel,  and  the  favourites  of  an  hour 
sink  into  oblivion.  Then  comes  the  final  test.  Will  the 
fallen  god  be  lifted  from  the  mire  and  restored  to  his 
old  splendour  ?  Will  the  dead  musician  be  rediscovered 
by  a  later  generation  and  live  a  second  life  in  their  new- 
born love  and  veneration  ?  A  second  life  it  must  be,  for 
the  first  is  dead  for  ever.     A  man's  work  can  never  mean 


to  a  later  age  what  it  meant  to  the  men  of  his  own  time. 
But  it  is  characteristic  of  great  art  that  it  carries  a 
message  to  every  generation  in  turn.  We  can  all  find  in 
it  something  to  suit  our  own  idiosyncrasies.  It  may  be 
something  entirely  different  from  what  our  forefathers 
found,  but  it  is  none  the  less  valuable  and  none  the  less 
true  on  that  account. 

What  the  music  of  Handel  meant  to  the  men  of  his 
own  time  it  is  now  difficult  to  say,  but  we  know  well 
enough  what  it  meant  to  our  fathers  and  grandfathers.  To 
them  Handel  was  the  musician  in  ordinary  to  the  Pro- 
testant religion.  He  had  been  taken  over  bag  and 
baggage  by  the  Church  of  England,  Handel  is  himself 
partly  responsible  for  the  popular  view  of  his  genius. 
One  of  the  most  often  quoted  of  his  sayings  relates  to 
the  production  of  The  Messiah.  Some  one  congratulated 
him  upon  having  given  the  town  a  fine  entertainment, 
whereupon  he  replied  :  "  My  lord,  I  wish  not  only  to 
entertain  them,  but  to  make  them  better."  This  was  a 
very  natural  and  proper  observation  to  make,  but  un- 
fortunately to  the  average  Englishman  to  "  be  good " 
means  only  to  go  to  church  or  chapel  on  Sunday 
morning  and  to  conform  externally  to  whatever  form  of 
Christianity  happens  to  suit  the  exigencies  of  his  tempera- 
ment ;  and  thus  Handel's  obiter  dictum  was  gradually 
twisted  into  meaning  that  he  wrote  with  a  definitely 
evangelistic  purpose,  and  in  consequence  he  was  held  up 
as  an  example  of  a  composer  who  had  consecrated  his 
genius   to   the   service  of  rehgion.     So   widely  was  this 


view  disseminated  that  in  time  even  his  secular  works 
were  claimed  by  the  Church.  In  the  year  1862  we  find 
Dean  Ramsay — an  amiable  divine  usually  credited  with 
a  sense  of  humour — declaring  in  a  lecture  on  Handel 
that  "  Lascia  ch'io  pianga "  was  "  like  all  Handel's  fine 
Italian  airs,  essentially  of  a  sacred  character." 

This  was  the  Handel  that  the  present  generation  in  its 
boyhood  was  expected  to  fall  down  and  worship.  No 
wonder  that,  like  the  enterprising  youth  in  the  nursery 
rhyme,  we  took  him,  metaphorically  speaking,  by  the 
left  leg  and  threw  him  downstairs,  though  in  his  case  it 
was  not  because  he  wouldn't  say  his  prayers,  but  because 
he  would  say  them  and  nothing  else. 

But  even  in  those  days  there  were  a  few  who  recognised 
the  real  Handel  beneath  the  black  gown  and  white  tie  in 
which  his  ecclesiastical  friends  had  disguised  him.  In 
1863  Edward  FitzGerald  wrote :  "  Handel  was  a  good  old 
Pagan  at  heart,  and,  till  he  had  to  yield  to  the  fashionable 
Piety  of  England,  stuck  to  Opera  and  Cantatas,  where 
he  could  revel  and  plunge  and  frolic  without  being  tied 
down  to  Orthodoxy."  Twenty  years  later  Samuel  Butler, 
the  author  of  Erewhon,  comparing  Handel  to  Shakespeare, 
in  the  opening  words  of  his  Alps  and  Sanctuaries  said : 
"  It  is  as  a  poet,  a  sympathiser  with  and  renderer  of  all 
estates  and  conditions  whether  of  men  or  things,  rather 
than  as  a  mere  musician,  that  Handel  reigns  supreme.  .  .  . 
There  has  been  no  one  to  touch  Handel  as  an  observer  of 
all  that  was  observable,  a  lover  of  all  that  was  lovable, 
a  hater  of  all  that  was  hateable,  and,  therefore,  as  a  poet. 

viii  HANDEL 

Shakespeare  loved  not  wisely  but  too  well.  Handel 
loved  as  well  as  Shakespeare,  but  more  wisely.  He  is 
as  much  above  Shakespeare  as  Shakespeare  is  above 
all  others,  except  Handel  himself;  he  is  no  less  lofty, 
impassioned,  tender,  and  full  alike  of  fire  and  love  of 
play ;  he  is  no  less  universal  in  the  range  of  his  sym- 
pathies, no  less  a  master  of  expression  and  illustration 
than  Shakespeare,  and  at  the  same  time  he  is  of  robuster, 
stronger  fibre,  more  easy,  less  introspective." 

In  those  days  these  were  voices  crying  in  the  wilder- 
ness, yet  a  change  was  at  hand.  The  year  after  Butler 
published  his  Alps  and  Sanctuaries  appeared  Rockstro's 
biography  of  Handel,  in  which  the  then  traditional  view 
of  the  composer  was  exaggerated  to  the  verge  of  cari- 
cature. I  am  inclined  to  think  that  Rockstro's  book 
dealt  the  death-blow  to  the  Christian  Handel.  From  that 
time  forward  a  certain  impatience  of  the  national  Handel- 
worship  began  to  manifest  itself,  which,  growing  stronger 
year  by  year,  has  ended  in  practically  dethroning  Handel 
from  the  position  that  he  occupied  for  so  many  years. 

There  is  no  doubt  that  at  the  present  time,  in  England 
at  any  rate,  Handel  is  unpopular  with  those  who  are  the 
mouthpieces  of  cultivated  musical  opinion.  Dr.  Ernest 
Walker,  for  instance,  in  his  History  of  Music  in  Eng- 
land, though  much  of  his  criticism  of  Handel  is  very 
much  to  the  point  and  is  obviously  derived  from  a 
careful  study  of  his  works  (which  is  more  than  can  be 
said  for  a  good  deal  of  modern  Handelian  criticism),  says 
that   "  no    other   composer   can   even    attempt    to    rival 


Handel  in  his  power  of  intensely  irritating  those  who 
have  the  strongest  and  sanest  admiration  for  his  genius," 
and  talks  light-heartedly  about  consigning  the  old  idol  to 
the  rubbish-heap.  I  am  well  aware  that  many  thousands 
of  Englishmen  habitually  attend  performances  of  TJie 
Messiah  as  a  religious  exercise,  just  as  many  thousands 
habitually  go  to  church ;  but  you  cannot  for  that  reason 
call  TJie  Messiah  popular  as  a  work  of  art  any  more  than 
you  can  call  the  Book  of  Common  Prayer  popular  as  a 
masterpiece  of  literature.  If  Handel  were  really  popular, 
his  other  works  would  not  be  shelved  so  completely  as 
they  are.  Thirty  years  ago  Sainso7i,  Solomon,  Jephtha, 
Judas,  and  Joshua  were  frequently  performed  in  London. 
Now  they  are  practically  unknown.  No,  the  Handel  of 
our  forefathers  is  dead ;  it  remains  for  us  to  revive  a  new 
Handel  from  the  ashes  of  the  old.  Handel  the  preacher 
is  laid  for  ever  in  the  tomb,  but  Handel  the  artist,  with 
his  all-embracing  sympathy  for  human  things  and  his 
delight  in  the  world  around  him,  lives  for  evermore. 

In  spite  of  the  obvious  trend  of  modern  criticism,  I 
anticipate  a  return  of  popularity  for  Handel,  or  if  not  of 
popularity,  at  least  of  more  general  appreciation  ;  and, 
paradoxical  as  it  sounds,  this  will  be  accomplished  by 
the  gradual  acceptance  of  the  theory  of  the  poetic  basis 
of  music.  For  as  the  comprehension  of  the  meaning  of 
music  grows,  so  will  less  and  less  value  be  attached 
to  mere  questions  of  form.  At  present  the  advocates 
of  abstract  music  are  sticklers  for  certain  forms  of 
music,  and  they  maintain,  I  understand,  that  the  interest 


of  music  lies  in  the  manner  in  which  these  forms 
are  used — they  even  talk  of  the  "  plot "  of  a  symphonic 
movement,  referring  only  to  the  development  of  the 
themes  employed.  When  people  have  grasped  the  fact 
— and  in  time  I  have  little  doubt  that  they  will  grasp  it 
— that  it  is  what  a  man  has  to  say  that  matters,  and 
that  the  way  he  says  it  is  comparatively  unimportant, 
there  is  bound  to  be  a  reaction  in  favour  of  a  man  who 
had  a  great  deal  to  say,  even  though  the  way  in  which  he 
chose  to  say  it  now  seems  absolutely  out  of  date.  I 
know  that  this  sounds  as  if  it  should  apply  chiefly  to 
instrumental  music,  whereas  Handel's  most  characteristic 
works  are  vocal.  But  though  Handel  set  words  to  music, 
he  often  used  the  words  merely  as  a  peg  to  hang  his 
ideas  upon,  or  perhaps  one  should  say  as  a  spring-board 
from  which  to  take  dives  into  the  infinite.  I  mean  that 
in  order  to  find  his  real  meaning  one  often  has  to  go 
behind  the  words  to  some  remote  idea  lurking  in  the 
background,  the  existence  of  which  a  casual  hearer 
might  hardly  suspect.  I  will  give  an  instance  of  what  I 
mean.  Every  one  knows  the  famous  air  "  Ombra  mai 
fu"  from  the  opera  Serse^  which  is  played  by  every 
violin  student  in  the  kingdom  in  a  vulgarised  modern 
version  usually  described  as  "  Handel's  celebrated  Largo." 
This  air  is  sung  by  the  hero  Xerxes,  who  is  standing 
beneath  the  boughs  of  his  favourite  plane  tree.  The 
words  mean :  "  Never  was  the  shade  of  aught  that  grows 
more  grateful."  I  had  known  the  air  from  childhood, 
but  I  confess  that  I  never  realised  what  Handel  meant 


by  it  till  I  happened  to  stroll  one  Sunday  evening  last 
summer  into  Lincoln's  Inn  Fields  at  the  hour  when  one 
of  the  excellent  London  County  Council  bands  was 
playing  in  the  gardens.  I  paused  to  listen  under  the 
shadow  of  a  magnificent  plane  tree,  broad  and  spreading 
as  Xerxes's  own,  and  as  the  familiar  melody  with  its 
broad  rich  harmonies  floated  to  my  ears  through  the 
dense  foliage  I  knew  that  it  was  the  hymn  of  the  tree 
that  Handel  was  singing,  not  only  of  the  plane  tree 
beloved  by  Xerxes,  but  of  that  other  tree,  emblem  of 
growth  and  strength  and  purity,  that  "  bulk  of  spanless 
girth,  which  lays  on  every  side  a  thousand  arms  and 
rushes  to  the  sun." 

It  is  the  inner  meaning  of  Handel's  music,  and  its 
power  of  searching  the  profoundest  recesses  of  the  soul, 
that  in  the  following  pages  I  have  endeavoured,  so  far  as 
I  am  able,  to  elucidate.  Its  merely  technical  qualities 
have  already  been  discussed  enough  and  to  spare.  Books 
on  Handel  written  by  musicians  already  abound,  but 
musicians  as  a  rule  take  more  interest  in  the  means  by 
which  an  end  is  attained  than  in  the  end  itself.  They 
tell  us  a  great  deal  about  the  methods  by  which  a 
composer  expresses  himself,  but  very  little  about  what 
he  actually  has  to  express.  I  have  tried,  how  feebly  and 
with  what  little  success  no  one  knows  better  than  myself, 
to  find  the  man  Handel  in  his  music,  to  trace  his 
character,  his  view  of  life,  his  thoughts,  feelings,  and 
aspirations,  as  they  are  set  forth  in  his  works.  That 
Handel,  like  other  men,  had  his  faults  and  weaknesses  I 

xii  HANDEL 

readily  admit.  Writing  as  he  did  cun^ente  calamo,  he  had 
not  always  time  to  weigh  the  worth  of  his  ideas.  He 
was  content  to  employ  certain  conventional  formulas 
and  certain  well-worn  cadences,  which  to  modern  ears 
seem  threadbare,  and  if  a  second-rate  idea  occurred  to 
him  he  did  not  always  wait  for  a  first-rate  one.  Yet 
to  me  the  mighty  soul  moving  behind  seems  to  give  life 
to  the  driest  of  bones,  and  I  feel  the  tremendous  person- 
ality of  the  man  even  in  his  most  perfunctory  strains. 
Handel's  warmest  admirer  could  perhaps  scarcely  claim 
for  him  that  he  was  a  greater  musician  than  Bach  or 
Mozart  or  Beethoven.  What  he  could  claim,  and  I 
think  with  justice,  would  be  that  of  all  who  have  written 
music  Handel  was  the  greatest  man. 

It  remains  for  me  to  conclude  with  a  tribute  of 
gratitude  to  the  authors  from  whose  works  I  have  derived 
assistance.  To  Friedrich  Chrysander,  whose  biography 
of  Handel  stands  alone  as  a  monument  of  painstaking 
erudition,  my  debt  is  greatest.  It  is  a  grievous  misfortune 
to  the  student  of  Handel  that  Chrysander's  labours  upon 
his  great  edition  of  Handel's  works  prevented  him  from 
carrying  his  biography  beyond  the  year  1740.  So  far  as 
it  goes  it  is  invaluable,  and  the  points  upon  which  I  have 
ventured  to  differ  from  the  learned  historian  are  few  in 
number  and  of  no  great  importance.  I  have  also  been 
much  helped  by  the  biographies  of  Rockstro  and 
Schoelcher  and  the  more  recent  monographs  of  Dr. 
Hermann  Kretzschmar  and  Dr.  Fritz  Volbach.  With 
regard   to   Handel's    Italian   journey  in    1706-10  Signer 

PREFACE  xiii 

Ademollo's  G.  F.  Haendel  in  Italia  has  been  of  the 
greatest  assistance  to  me.  To  the  other  authorities  that 
I  have  consulted  due  reference  has  been  made  in  the 
body  of  the  work,  but  I  must  mention  with  especial 
gratitude  Mr.  Randall  Davies's  English  Society  in  the 
Eighteenth  Century,  which  gives  so  admirable  a  picture  of 
London  life  during  the  Handelian  epoch. 

My  warmest  thanks  are  due  to  the  Earl  of  Shaftesbury 
for  permitting  me  to  make  use  of  the  MS.  record  of 
Handel's  operatic  career  compiled  by  his  ancestor  the 
fourth  Earl,  which  is  now  among  the  Shaftesbury  papers 
in  the  Record  Office;  and  to  the  Earl  of  Malmesbury 
for  his  kindness  in  allowing  me  to  publish  a  reproduction 
of  his  portrait  of  Handel  by  Mercier,  which  was  painted 
about  the  year  1748  and  is  undoubtedly  the  most  lifelike 
and  characteristic  presentment  of  the  composer  that  has 
come  down  to  us.  It  is  impossible  for  me  to  thank  by 
name  all  the  friends  who  have  helped  me  in  my  work, 
but  I  must  record  my  gratitude  to  Mr.  Montgomery 
Carmichael,  H.M.  Consul  at  Leghorn,  to  Senhor  Manoel 
de  Carvalhaes,  and  to  Dr.  Guido  Biagi,  the  Keeper  of  the 
Laurentian  Library  at  Florence,  for  the  kind  assistance 
that  they  gave  me  in  my  attempt  to  unravel  the  history 
of  the  production  of  Handel's  Rodrigo. 

August  1909 


I.  Handel  at  Halle,  1685-1703 
II.  Handel  at  Hamburg,  1703-1706    . 

III.  Handel  in  Italy,  1706-1710 

IV.  Handel's  First  Visit  to  England,  1710-1711 
V.  Handel's  Second  Visit  to  England,  1712-1717 

VI.  Canons   and    the    Royal  Academy  of  Music 

1718-1726       ..... 
VII.  Faustina  and  Cuzzoni,  1726-1728  . 
VIII.  Handel  as  Manager,  1728- 1732 
IX.  Struggles  and  Defeats,  i  732-1 737 
X.  Ecce  Convertimur  ad  Gentes  !  1737-1741 
XI.  Handel  in  Ireland,  1741-1742 
XII.  The  Second  Bankruptcy,  1742-1745 

XIII.  The  Turn  of  the  Tide,  1745-1751 

XIV.  Handel's  Blindness  and  Death,  1751-1759 
XV.  The  Operas      ..... 

XVI.  Oratorios  and  other  Choral  Works    . 

XVII.  The  Messiah  . 

XVIII.  The  Later  Oratorios 

XIX.  Instrumental  Works 

Appendix  A     . 

Appendix  B 

Appendix  C     . 

Index    . 














Handel    .......    Frontispiece 

From  a  Portrait  by  Mercier  in  the  possession  of  the  Earl  of  Malmesbury 


The  Queen's  Theatre  .....        50 

From  a  Water-Colour  Drawing  by  W.  Capon 

The  Landing  of  Senesino    .....        86 

From  a  Contemporary  Engraving 

CuzzoNi  AND  Faustina  .....        99 

From  a  Contemporary  Engraving 

CuzzoNi,  Farinelli  and  Heidegger  .  .  .129 

From  a  Drawing  by  the  Countess  of  Burlington 

Vauxhall    Gardens,    with    Roubiliac's    Statue    of 

Handel        .......      149 

From  a  Contemporary  Engraving 

Frost  Fair  on  the  Thames.  .  .  .  .156 

From  a  Contemporary  Engraving 

Vauxhall  Gardens     ......      202 

From  a  Drawing  by  Rowlandson 

CuzzoNi,  Senesino  and  Berenstadt  .  .  .      239 

From  an  Engraving  after  Hogarth 

Handel  ........      269 

From  a  Portrait  by  Thornhill  in  the  Fitzwilliam  Museum,  Cambridge 

Facsimile  of  Handel's  "  Hunting  Song  "  .  .      303 

From  an  Autograph  in  the  possession  of  Mrs.  Legh,   of  Adlington 
Hall,  Cheshire 

Handel  ........      337 

From  an  Engraving  after  a  Portrait  by  Hudson 


HANDEL  AT   HALLE,   1685-1703 

THE  political  and  religious  wars  of  the  seventeenth 
century,  so  fertile  and  far-reaching  in  their  issues, 
accomplished  nothing  more  important  for  the  future  of 
European  society  than  the  elevation  of  the  middle  class  to 
the  rank  of  a  power  in  the  state.  In  England  the  Civil 
War  stamped  out  the  last  traces  of  feudalism,  in  Germany 
the  Thirty  Years'  "War,  though  less  sweeping  in  its  ap- 
parent results,  cleared  the  field  quite  as  effectively.  At 
the  close  of  the  struggle  the  burgher  class  awoke  to  the 
fact  that  it  was  practically  its  own  master.  The  bogey  of 
the  Church  was  exorcised,  the  fangs  of  the  aristocracy 
were  drawn.  A  Frederick  the  Great  and  a  Maria  Theresa 
were  still  possible,  but  the  command  of  the  body  politic 
had  passed  from  the  belly  to  the  brain.  The  results  of 
this  social  revolution,  for  so  it  practically  was,  were  not 
immediately  perceptible,  but  the  habit  of  self-reliance  and 
the  acquired  faculty  of  independent  thought  and  judgment 
bore  rich  fruit  in  the  ensuing  generation.  From  the  loins 
of  the  sturdy  race  that  had  won  its  way  to  liberty  by 
blood  and  iron  sprang  the  giants  who  were  to  build  the 
shining  citadel  of  German  art.  Only  a  line  of  heroes — 
mute,  inglorious  heroes,  it  may  be,  but  heroes  none  the 


less — could   father    such    a    man    as    George .  Frederick 

The  Handel  family  originally  belonged  to  Breslau,  but 
early  in  the  seventeenth  century  the  coppersmith  Valentine 
Handel  migrated  to  Halle.  His  youngest  son  George, 
the  composer's  father,  was  born  in  1622.  George  began 
life  as  a  barber,  but  like  many  of  his  craft  blossomed  into 
a  surgeon.  His  fortune  was  made  by  a  lucky  operation 
performed  in  1660  upon  Duke  Augustus  of  Saxony,  who 
in  gratitude  appointed  him  "  Geheimer  Kammerdiener 
und  Leibchirurgus,"  which  being  interpreted  is  Groom  of 
the  Chamber  and  Private  Surgeon,  In  1665  he  bought  the 
house  Am  Schlamme,  now  famous  as  the  birthplace  of 
George  Frederick.  The  latter,  who  was  the  second  son  of 
his  father's  second  wife,  Dorothea  Taust,  was  born  on  the 
23rd  of  February  1685,  and  was  baptized  on  the  following 

Halle  in  1685  was  in  some  ways  but  a  shadow  of  its 
past  self.  It  had  been  for  many  years  the  favourite 
residence  of  Duke  Augustus,  who  ruled  over  the  arch- 
diocese of  Magdeburg  in  the  name  of  his  father,  John 
George,  the  Elector  of  Saxony.  His  court  at  the  Moritz- 
burg,  if  not  the  most  dazzling,  was  one  of  the  most  artistic 
in  Germany.  The  Halle  theatre  had  been  famous  not  only 
for  its  history — for  it  was  one  of  the  earliest  to  cultivate 
the  German  Singspiel  as  opposed  to  the  fashionable 
Italian  opera  of  the  day — but  also  for  \\.%  personnel,  since 
on  its  staff  were  to  be  found  many  of  the  most  illustrious 
musicians  of  the  time.  Records  survive,  too,  of  court 
festivities  of  no  common  splendour,  of  ballets,  tournaments, 
and  spectacles,  which  prove  that  life  at  Halle  was 
something  very  different  from  the  trivial  round  of  the 
ordinary  German  provincial  town.     But  in  1680,  after  the 


death  of  Duke  Augustus,  all  this  gaiety  came  to  an 
abrupt  conclusion.  In  accordance  with  the  terms  of  the 
Peace  of  Westphalia,  Halle  was  handed  over  to  the  Elec- 
torate of  Brandenburg,  and  the  young  Duke  Johann  Adolf 
of  Saxe-Weissenfels,  who  succeeded  his  father,  transferred 
his  court  to  Weissenfels.  The  muses  fled  from  the  banks 
of  the  Saale,  and  Halle  relapsed  from  courtly  splendour 
into  the  dull  monotony  of  burgherdom.  Yet  though  the 
glory  of  Halle  had  departed,  the  quaint  old  town  upon 
which  Handel's  eyes  opened  was  not  without  its  charm. 
The  Moritzburg,  not  yet  degraded  into  a  Calvinistic 
church,  still  frowned  down  upon  the  city  in  stately 
splendour;  the  mysterious  Rothe  Thurm  and  the  stone 
Roland  still  whispered  the  secrets  of  the  Middle  Ages  to 
a  later  and  more  prosaic  race  ;  and  from  the  towers  ot 
Our  Lady's  Church  the  sweet-voiced  bells  still  chimed  the 
evening  hymn,  that  to  the  ears  of  the  infant  musician  must 
have  sounded  like  a  message  from  another  world. 

The  chief  authority  for  the  events  of  Handel's  child- 
hood is  the  memoir  by  the  Rev.  John  Mainwaring,  which 
was  published  in  1760,  a  year  after  Handel's  death. 
Mainwaring  did  not  himself  know  Handel,  but  he  collected 
his  anecdotes  from  those  who  did,  particularly  from  John 
Christopher  Smith,  who  had  been  Handel's  secretary  and 
was  the  son  of  one  of  his  oldest  friends,  and,  if  due  allow- 
ance is  made  for  the  legendary  atmosphere  that  invariably 
gathers  round  the  head  of  an  illustrious  man,  there  is  no 
particular  reason  for  doubting  the  general  truth  of  his 
statements,  though  his  details  are  often  obviously  pure 
romance  and  his  chronology  is  not  to  be  relied  on. 
According  to  Mainwaring,  therefore,  the  future  composer 
"  from  his  very  childhood  discovered  such  a  strong  pro- 
pensity to  Music,  that  his  father,  who  always  intended  him 


for  the  study  of  Civil  Law,  had  reason  to  be  alarmed." 
His  alarm  took  the  practical  shape  of  consigning  to  the 
flames  all  the  musical  toys,  drums,  trumpets,  and  so  forth, 
with  which  the  boy  had  filled  his  nursery.  George 
Frederick  himself  was  packed  off  to  school,  although  he 
cannot  very  well  have  been  more  than  five  or  six  years 
old.  However,  in  spite  of  parental  sternness,  he  was  not 
altogether  severed  from  his  beloved  music.  He  contrived, 
with  the  aid  of  an  amiable  relative,  possibly  his  mother 
or  the  aunt  Anna  who  we  learn  from  the  baptismal 
register  was  his  godmother,  to  smuggle  a  clavichord- 
doubtless  one  of  the  miniature  sort  which  could  be  carried 
under  the  arm— into  a  garret  at  the  top  of  the  house. 
Thither  in  the  stillness  of  the  night  the  tiny  boy  would 
creep  and  practise  to  his  heart's  content,  while  the  rest 
of  the  household  was  wrapt  in  slumber.  No  better  instru- 
ment for  these  nocturnal  concerts  could  have  been  devised 
than  the  clavichord,  with  its  sweet  muffled  tone,  which  is 
barely  audible  a  few  yards  from  the  instrument  itself. 
From  early  association  the  clavichord  should  have  been 
dear  to  Handel,— as  dear  as  it  undoubtedly  was  to  Bach,— 
yet  he  seems  to  have  written  nothing  for  it,  at  any  rate 
nothing  has  survived. 

The  next  recorded  event  of  Handel's  childhood  took 
place,  according  to  Mainwaring,  when  he  was  seven  years 
old.  'At  Weissenfels,  some  forty  miles  from  Halle, 
occupying  a  subordinate  position  in  the  household  of 
Duke  Johann  Adolf,  dwelt  George  Christian,  a  grandson 
of  old  George  Handel  of  Halle,  sprung  from  his  first 
family,  and  a  full  ten  years  older  than  his  little  half-uncle 
George  Frederick.  Thither,  in  spite  of  his  seventy  odd 
years,  George  Handel  proposed  to  go  to  visit  his  grandson, 
and  to  pay  his  respects  to  the  Duke.     Boylike,  his  little 


seven-year-old  son  wanted  to  go  too,  and,  in  the  words  of 
Mainwaring,  "  finding  all  his  solicitations  ineffectual,  he 
had  recourse  to  the  only  method  which  was  left  for  the 
accomplishment  of  his  wish,"  that  is  to  say,  he  ran  after 
the  chaise  as  well  as  he  was  able,  contrived  to  get  picked 
up  when  he  was  too  far  from  Halle  to  be  sent  back  alone, 
made  his  peace  with  his  father,  and  drove  to  Weissenfels 
in  triumph.  At  Weissenfels  the  stars  in  their  courses 
fought  his  battles  for  him.  His  astounding  precocity  won 
the  hearts  of  all  the  musicians  in  the  Duke's  orchestra, 
and  the  Duke,  who  happened  to  hear  the  boy  playing  the 
organ  in  the  chapel  one  day  after  service,  talked  seriously 
to  his  father  about  devoting  him  to  the  musical  profes- 
sion. Old  Handel  stood  out  as  firmly  as  he  could  in 
favour  of  a  legal  career,  but  the  Duke  was  too  much  for 
him.  Doubtless  the  precedent  of  Schutz  was  quoted,  who 
had  died  at  Weissenfels  some  twenty  years  before. 
Schutz  had  begun  life  by  studying  law,  but  ere  long  had 
yielded  to  the  seductions  of  music,  with  such  results  as 
even  the  obstinate  old  surgeon  could  scarce  cavil  at.  In 
the  end  he  gave  way,  and  promised  that  his  boy  should  be 
allowed  to  study  music  when  he  got  home  again.  He 
kept  his  word,  and  when  they  were  safely  back  at  Halle 
he  submitted  George  Frederick  to  the  instructions  of 
Friedrich  Wilhelm  Zachow,  the  organist  of  the  Liebfrauen- 
kirche,  while  insisting  that  at  the  same  time  he  should 
continue  his  school  work  just  as  before. 

Zachow  was  at  that  time  about  thirty  years  old,  and  a 
fair  average  specimen  of  the  cantor  of  the  period.  A  few 
of  his  works  have  survived  to  our  day,  and  show  talent 
and  sound  musicianship  if  not  genius.  The  man  himself 
we  may  judge  to  have  been  worthy  and  conscientious. 
Handel  was  not  a  man  who  suffered  fools  gladly,  yet  he 


retained  his  regard  for  Zachow  to  the  end  of  his  days. 
He  spoke  of  him  invariably  with  affection  and  gratitude, 
and  he  supported  his  widow  in  her  old  age.  Zachow  was 
evidently  a  believer  in  hard  work.  It  is  said  that  he  re- 
quired his  pupil  to  produce  a  church  cantata  every  week. 
Handel  himself  admitted,  according  to  Burney,  that  he 
worked  "  like  a  devil "  in  those  days.  This  was  said  d 
propos  of  a  set  of  trios  for  two  hautboys  and  bass,  which 
was  discovered  by  Lord  Polwarth  in  Germany  many 
years  afterwards.  He  brought  them  to  England  and  they 
were  shown  to  Handel,  who  recognised  them  at  once  as  a 
production  of  his  boyhood.  If  they  are  the  trios  printed 
by  Chrysander  in  the  Handel-Gesellschaft  edition,  they 
are  the  best  possible  proof  of  Handel's  astounding  pre- 
cocity. As  a  specimen  of  the  work  of  a  boy  of  ten  years 
old  they  stand  alone  in  the  history  of  music.  Even 
Mozart  wrote  nothing  at  that  age  that  can  be  compared 
with  them  for  freshness  of  melody  and  maturity  of 
musicianship.  Of  Handel's  other  works  written  at  this 
time  little  has  survived.  An  interesting  record  of  his 
studies  with  Zachow,  in  the  shape  of  a  volume  of  extracts 
from  the  works  of  his  contemporaries,  dated  1698,  was 
known  to  exist  so  late  as  the  year  1799,  but  all  trace 
of  it  has  now  disappeared.  It  would  have  been  doubly 
valuable  if  it  had  proved  that  even  at  that  early  age 
Handel  had  already  began  the  practice,  which  he  carried 
in  his  later  years  to  such  extreme  lengths,  of  adapting  the 
work  of  his  predecessors  and  contemporaries  to  his  own 
use.  Three  years  of  hard  work  with  Zachow  gave  Handel 
all  the  learning  that  his  master  could  impart,  as  the  latter 
himself  confessed,  and  the  boy  looked  round  him  for  more 
worlds  to  conquer.  Berlin  was  at  that  time  the  goal 
of  every  German    musician's   ambition.     The    Elector   of 


Brandenburg,  afterwards  King  Frederick  I  of  Prussia, 
was  a  monarch  of  liberal  tastes,  and  the  Electress  Sophia 
Charlotte  ruled  a  court  which  would  willingly  have 
rivalled  Versailles  in  its  encouragement  of  art  and  artists. 
Thither  Handel  was  taken  by  his  father,  probably  in  the 
year  1696. 

The  Berlin  with  which  he  made  acquaintance  was,  it 
need  hardly  be  said,  very  different  from  the  spacious  and 
handsome  city  of  to-day.  It  contained  but  twenty  thou- 
sand inhabitants,  and  in  its  outward  appearance  seemed 
not  far  removed  from  the  country  village  from  which  it 
originally  sprang.  Trees  grew  in  the  narrower  streets, 
and  swine  grouted  among  the  refuse  that  collected  under 
the  lime  trees  of  the  now  famous  Unter  den  Linden. 
Many  of  the  houses  were  thatched  with  straw,  and  wooden 
chimneys  added  to  the  ever-present  danger  of  fire.  The 
countrified  aspect  of  the  town  was  accentuated  by  the 
fences  and  palings  which  still  surrounded  the  houses. 
The  lighting  of  the  streets  was  characteristically  managed. 
Every  three  houses  had  to  provide  a  lantern,  which  was 
hung  at  night  over  the  door  of  each  one  in  turn.  Till  the 
very  end  of  the  seventeenth  century  there  was  no  pretence 
at  anything  like  a  watchman  in  Berlin.  The  inhabitants 
were  a  quiet,  law-abiding  race,  and  the  Berlin  street-life 
was  very  different  from  that  of  London.  No  Mohock 
orgies  troubled  the  placid  banks  of  the  Spree,  and  when 
the  Elector  instituted  his  new  police,  the  good  Berliners 
indignantly  declared  that  they  were  quite  capable  of 
looking  after  themselves.  But  though  the  city  of  Berlin 
lingered  in  its  primitive  state  of  civilisation,  the  court 
was  nothing  if  not  advanced  and  cultured.  The  Electress 
Sophia  Charlotte  consoled  herself  for  a  loveless  marriage 
by  surrounding  herself  with   scholars  and    artists.     Her 


husband  was  a  typical  German  soldier-monarch.  He  rose 
at  4  a.m.,  just  the  time  when  his  wife  went  to  bed,  and 
worshipped  etiquette  a  good  deal  more  fervently  than 
he  worshipped  God  ;  whereas  Sophia  Charlotte  cared  little 
for  rules  and  regulations,  and  took  a  malicious  pleasure 
in  bestowing  her  patronage  upon  persons  who  were  not 

The  great  literary  light  of  the  Berlin  court  was 
Leibniz,  whose  friendship  with  Sophia  earned  her  the 
title  of  the  Philosophic  Queen,  though  it  may  be  doubted 
whether  she  was  quite  as  competent  to  act  the  part  of 
Egeria  to  the  great  philosopher  as  her  courtly  flatterers 
tried  to  make  her  believe.  At  any  rate,  we  find  her 
writing  in  a  petulant  mood  to  a  friend :  "  II  traite  tout  si 
superficiellement  avec  moi.  II  se  defie  de  mon  genie,  car 
rarement  il  repond  avec  precision  sur  les  matieres  que 

However,  when  Leibniz  snubbed  her,  Sophia  Charlotte 
could  take  refuge  in  music,  for  she  was  an  accomplished 
performer  on  the  harpsichord,  and  had  collected  a  good 
library  of  music.  She  is  said,  too,  to  have  dabbled  in 
composition.  In  her  younger  days  she  had  been  a  pupil 
of  Steffani,  who  was  Kapellmeister  at  the  court  of  her 
father,  the  Elector  of  Hanover,  and  she  remained  his 
trusted  friend  all  her  life. 

Her  husband,  though  not  himself  troubled  by  artistic 
leanings,  liked  to  think  that  he  was  at  the  head  of  a 
cultivated  court,  and  encouraged  her  artistic  tastes.  She 
invited  celebrated  musicians  to  Berlin,  and  organised 
operatic  performances  among  her  household.  On  one 
occasion  she  incurred  the  wrath  of  the  court  preacher  by 
summoning  one  of  her  performers  to  a  rehearsal  from  the 
communion  table  itself     Possibly  it  was  the  same  preacher 


who  was  refused  admission  to  Sophia  Charlotte's  chamber 
when  she  lay  on  her  death-bed  some  ten  years  later. 
"  Laissez-moi  mourir,"  whispered  the  poor  lady  to  her 
attendants,  "  sans  disputer."  ^ 

On  what  pretext  the  youthful  Handel  went  to  Berlin 
is  not  clear,  but  probably  his  fame  had  overstepped  the 
limits  of  his  native  town,  and  a  sedulous  courtier  may 
have  desired  to  gratify  his  royal  patrons  by  introducing 
a  new  infant  prodigy  to  their  musical  circle.  Handel's 
visit  to  Berlin  was  an  unqualified  triumph.  The  Elector 
and  Electress  were  at  his  feet  in  a  moment.  The  bonds 
of  etiquette  dissolved  in  his  presence,  and  the  courtiers 
vied  with  each  other  in  singing  the  praises  of  the  wonder- 
ful child  whose  performance  upon  harpsichord  and  organ 
put  to  shame  the  grey-haired  professors  of  music. 

The  story  of  Handel's  encounter  with  Bononcini  and 
Ariosti  at  the  court  of  Sophia  Charlotte  must  be  regret- 
fully dismissed  to  the  limbo  of  legend.  Mainwaring 
relates  with  a  profusion  of  detail  how  the  gentle  Ariosti 
welcomed  the  boy  with  rapture,  applauded  him  with 
sincere  delight,  and  held  him  on  his  knee  for  hours  together 
while  they  talked  of  music  and  her  inexhaustible  treasures.^ 

Bononcini,    on   the   other   hand,   we    are    told,   stood 

^  Erman,  J.  P.,  Mimoires  pour  sefvir  ^  Vhistoire  de  Sophie  Charlotte, 
Heine  de  Frusse,  Berlin,  1801,  8°  ;  Hahn,  W.,  Friedrick,  der  erste  Kdnig  in 
Preussen,  Berlin,  185 1,  8°. 

*  Ariosti  is  usually  described  by  his  contemporaries  as  an  amiable  and 
unambitious  man.  An  epigram,  however,  by  Paolo  Rolli,  published  in  his 
Marziale  in  Albion  (1776),  gives  a  less  attractive  view  of  his  character.  It 
may  be  roughly  translated  as  follows  : — 

"  Here  lies  Attilio  Ariosti — 
He'd  borrow  still,  could  he  accost  ye. 
Priest  to  the  last,  whate'er  betide, 
At  others'  cost  he  lived — and  died." 


sullenly  aloof,  ignoring  the  boy  when  possible,  and  when 
he  was  compelled  to  notice  his  existence,  presenting  him 
with  the  most  difficult  test  of  musicianship  that  he  could 
devise  —  a  cantata  bristling  with  chromatic  harmonies, 
which  the  lad  was  to  accompany  at  sight  from  the  figured 
bass.  Handel  fulfilled  the  task  with  complete  success, 
and  Bononcini  was  forced  to  admit  his  young  rival's 
attainments,  but  he  nursed  his  jealous  envy  in  secret,  and 
when  they  met  many  years  afterwards,  memories  of 
Berlin  added  rancour  to  his  hatred  of  the  man  who  had 
vanquished  him  in  London. 

All  this,  unfortunately,  is  pure  romance.  As  Handel's 
father  died  early  in  1697,  the  Berlin  visit  cannot  have 
taken  place  later  than  1696.  Modern  research  has  dis- 
covered that  Ariosti  did  not  reach  Berlin  until  the  spring 
of  1697,  and  Bononcini  not  until  1702.  It  is  just  possible 
that  when  Handel  left  Halle  in  1703  he  may  have  passed 
through  Berlin  on  his  way  to  Hamburg.  In  that  case 
he  would  probably  have  met  both  Ariosti  and  Bononcini, 
and  possibly  may  have  submitted  to  Bononcini's  test.  In 
any  case,  the  romantic  picture  of  the  youthful  Handel 
sitting  upon  Ariosti's  knee  must  be  abandoned,  for  it 
would  have  needed  a  man  of  stouter  build  than  the  frail 
little  Italian  abate  to  nurse  an  eighteen-year-old  stripling 
of  Handel's  sturdy  build.^ 

The  Elector  gave  the  boy  more  than  barren  eulogy. 
Wishing  like  a  true  Maecenas  to  attach  so  brilliantly 
gifted  a  genius  to  his  own  court,  he  offered  to  send  him 
at  once  to  complete  his  education  in  Italy,  and  on  his 
return  to  give   him  a   suitable   position    at   Berlin.     But 

^  Ebert,  Attilio  Ariosti  in  Berlin,  Leipzig,  1905  ;  "  Briefe  der  Konigin 
Sophie  Charlotte  von  Preussen."  {Publikationen  aiis  den  K.  Pretissischen 
StaatsarcJuveit,  Bd.  79.) 


the  tough  old  surgeon  at  Halle  was  as  obstinate  as  ever. 
He  still  dreamed  of  legal  honours  for  his  Benjamin,  and 
we  may  hope,  too,  that  parental  affection  had  something 
to  do  with  his  prompt  refusal  of  the  suggestion  that  he 
should  part  with  the  child  of  his  declining  years.  At  any 
rate  the  royal  bounty  was  uncompromisingly  declined, 
and  we  may  be  glad  of  it,  for  the  mere  thought  of  Handel, 
the  proudest  spirit  that  ever  wrote  music,  as  a  pensioner 
of  royal  charity,  even  at  an  age  when  refusal  or  acceptance 
did  not  rest  with  him,  has  something  repulsive  about  it. 

Handel,  however,  was  to  owe  nothing  to  the  favours  of 
the  great,  and  his  father's  rejection  of  the  Elector's  offer 
was  the  signal  for  the  boy's  return  to  Halle.  After  his 
taste  of  the  splendours  of  the  court,  it  must  have  been 
difficult  for  the  lad  to  settle  down  to  the  common  tasks 
of  his  life  at  Halle.  But  all  thoughts  of  leaving  home 
were  banished  from  his  mind  by  the  death  of  his  father 
at  the  age  of  seventy-five  in  1697,  which  left  him  and 
his  two  little  sisters  dependent  upon  his  mother.  Frau 
Dorothea  was  fully  equal  to  the  task  of  bringing  up  her 
young  family.  The  amiable  divine  who  preached  her 
funeral  sermon  enlarged  upon  her  "  pleasant  gifts  of  mind 
and  body,  and  her  talent  in  ruling  her  household  " ;  but 
funeral  sermons  have  little  weight  as  evidence,  and  the 
best  tribute  to  the  good  lady's  educational  system  lies 
in  the  character  of  her  son,  and  in  the  strong  affection 
which  he  bore  her  until  the  day  of  her  death. 

Five  years  now  passed  rapidly  over  Handel's  head — 
five  years  of  schooling  at  the  Gymnasium,  and  of  counsel 
if  not  precisely  of  instruction  from  Zachow,  for  whom  he 
often  acted  as  assistant.  In  February  1702  he  matriculated 
at  the  University  of  Halle,  which  had  been  founded  only  a 
few  years  before,  as  a  "  Studiosus  Juris,"  or  student  of  law. 


But,  however  conscientiously  Handel  strove  to  fulfil  his 
father's  wishes  as  to  his  career,  the  muse  was  not  to  be 
denied.  During  his  later  schooldays  he  must  have  made 
considerable  progress  in  music,  since  to  Telemann  (him- 
self a  rising  composer  who  passed  through  Halle  in  1701 
and  made  Handel's  acquaintance)  he  was  "  the  already 
accomplished  George  Frederick  Handel."^ 

Hardly  had  he  entered  the  university  when  an  event 
occurred  which  threatened  to  interfere  very  seriously  with 
his  legal  studies,  that  is  to  say,  he  received  the  appoint- 
ment of  organist  at  the  Schlosskirche,  the  second  church 
in  Halle.  The  salary  was  fifty  thalers  and  an  official 
residence  in  the  Moritzburg,  which  was  sub-let  at  sixteen 
thalers  a  year.  He  was  to  serve  a  probation  of  twelve 
months,  not  because  of  any  doubt  as  to  his  musical 
capacity,  but  in  order  that  the  Calvinist  congregation 
might  make  up  their  minds  whether  they  could  endure 
to  have  their  hymn  tunes  played  to  them  by  a  staunch 
Lutheran.  Handel's  duties  were  not  merely  to  play  the 
organ  at  all  the  services,  but  to  see  that  the  instrument 
was  kept  in  proper  repair  and  working  order,  to  compose 
psalm  tunes  and  cantatas  for  all  Sundays  and  festivals, 
and  to  ensure  their  proper  performance. 

There  is  no  reason  to  suppose  that  Handel  failed  in 
any  of  these  duties — indeed  he  had  plenty  of  time  not 
only  to  keep  up  an  animated  correspondence  with  his 
friend  Telemann,  who  was  now  established  at  Leipzig 
but  to  pay  him  occasional  visits,  probably  at  the  ducal 
court  of  Weissenfels,  for  which  Telemann,  stripling  as  he 
was,  wrote  no  fewer  than  four  operas.^  At  Halle,  too 
Handel's  official  tasks  were  not  onerous  enough  to  satisfy 
his  fiery  spirit,  and   he  induced   some  of  his  university 

^  Mattheson,  Gruitdlage  eiuer  Ehren-Pforte,  s.v.  Telemann. 


comrades  to  form  a  voluntary  choir,  so  as  to  give  per- 
formances on  Wednesdays  and  Saturdays  of  vocal  and 
instrumental  music,  of  a  more  elaborate  nature  than  was 
admissible  on  Sundays.  It  may  well  be  imagined  that 
many  of  his  own  compositions  first  saw  the  light  under 
these  conditions,  but  of  the  music  that  he  wrote  at  this 
period  but  little  has  survived. 

A  setting  of  the  Laudate  Pueri  for  soprano  solo  is 
undoubtedly  authentic,  and  contains  many  characteristic 
touches.  One  of  the  melodies  is  a  kind  of  early  sketch 
for  "  O  had  I  Jubal's  lyre,"  and  another  with  its  repeti- 
tion of  a  single  note  has  a  kinship  with  the  theme 
of  "  Blessing,  glory,  wisdom,  and  power,"  in  TJie 

There  exist  also  two  oratorios  dating  from  this  period 
which  have  been  attributed  to  Handel,  Die  ErWsung  des 
Volks  Gottes  aus  Egypten  and  Der  ungerathene  So/in, 
and  a  church  cantata,  Ach  Herr,  mich  armen  Sunder, 
but  though  Chrysander  was  inclined  to  accept  the  cantata 
as  genuine,  he  did  not  include  it  in  his  great  edition,  and 
the  consensus  of  critical  opinion  is  against  the  authenticity 
of  all  three  works.  Handel's  term  of  office  at  the  Schloss- 
kirche  was  but  a  short  one.  Ere  his  year  of  probation 
had  expired,  he  was  sighing  for  fresh  woods  and  pastures 
new.  He  had  stuck  manfully  to  his  legal  studies  for 
many  years,  but  as  he  drew  near  to  manhood  his  natural 
genius  asserted  itself  He  felt  that  music  was  his  vocation, 
and  knew  that  his  duty  called  him  to  the  service  of 
art  rather  than  to  the  dull  round  of  slavery  to  which  his 
father  had  destined  him.  He  felt,  too,  that  Halle  was 
too  narrow  a  field  for  his  genius.  He  needed  a  wider 
horizon  and  ampler  skies.  So  Pegasus  burst  from  his 
harness,  and  sought  the  viewless  fields  of  air.     One  fine 


summer  morning  Handel  left  Halle  behind  him,  and 
turned  his  steps  northward.  It  was  not  without  a  pang, 
we  may  be  sure,  that  he  relinquished  the  scene  of  boy- 
hood's dreams  and  struggles,  for  he  was  leaving  behind 
him  his  mother  and  sisters  and  others  perhaps  who  were 
dear,  but  the  call  of  life  had  sounded,  the  immortal 
longings  would  not  be  stifled,  and  the  boy,  full  of  ardent 
hope  and  glowing  ambition,  hastened  away  to  take  his 
place  in  the  great  battle  of  life. 

HANDEL  AT  HAMBURG,  1703-1706 

HAMBURG  at  the  opening  of  the  eighteenth  century- 
stood  apart  from  the  other  great  cities  of  Germany. 
Its  isolated  position  had  not  only  saved  it  from  the  terrors 
of  the  Thirty  Years'  War,  but  had  induced  many  wealthy 
citizens  from  other  towns  to  take  refuge  within  its  walls. 
Strengthened  thus  in  substance  and  consideration,  it  had 
an  advantage  over  its  rivals  when  peace  at  last  came,  and 
during  the  latter  half  of  the  seventeenth  century  it  easily 
established  itself  as  the  chief  trading  centre  of  Germany. 
Its  commercial  prosperity  reacted  upon  its  social  life. 
The  wealthy  burghers  could  afford  to  send  their  sons 
on  the  grand  tour,  and  to  educate  their  daughters  in  the 
age's  best  accomplishments.  Thus,  while  many  German 
towns  were  still  lingering  in  the  mists  of  medievalism, 
Hamburg  boasted  an  almost  Italian  degree  of  culture. 
In  1678  a  theatre  was  opened,  in  which  the  German 
tongue  was  for  the  first  time  employed  for  operatic 
purposes.  At  first  the  operas  given  were  sacred,  but 
though  the  range  of  subject  was  strictly  limited,  no 
bounds  were  placed  upon  the  splendour  of  decorations 
and  accessories.  Contemporary  writers  vie  with  each 
other  in  describing  the  sumptuous  scenery  and  dresses. 
Even  the  French  critic  Regnard  was  compelled  grudgingly 


to  acknowledge  that  "  las  operas  n'y  sont  pas  mal  repre- 
sentes ;  j'y  ai  trouve  celui  d'  '  Alceste  '  tres  beau." 

As  time  went  on,  sacred  operas  gave  way  to  secular, 
and  the  last  sacred  opera  was  performed  in  1692.  But 
before  that  date,  opera,  even  in  cultivated  Hamburg,  had 
to  live  down  a  good  deal  of  prejudice  and  opposition. 
The  pietistic  pastors  of  the  period  undertook  a  new 
crusade  against  this  latest  snare  of  Satan.  They 
fulminated  against  opera  from  their  pulpits,  they  de- 
nounced it  in  the  streets.  So  successful  was  their 
campaign  that  in  1684  they  induced  the  civic  council  to 
order  the  closure  of  the  theatre.  But  the  triumph  of 
blindness  and  bigotry  was  shortlived.  In  the  following 
year  the  theatre  was  reopened,  and  ere  long  reached  the 
zenith  of  its  success  under  the  auspices  of  Reinhard 
Keiser,  who  rose  upon  the  Hamburg  horizon  in  1694. 

When  Handel  reached  Hamburg  in  1703  the  decline 
had  already  begun.  German  opera  was  yielding  its  pride 
of  place  before  the  advance  of  the  stranger.  Not  merely 
were  operas  given  in  Italian  and  French,  but  even 
German  works  were  interspersed  with  Italian  airs.  The 
taste  of  the  city,  too,  was  not  what  it  had  been.  Opera 
wavered  between  idle  pomp  and  gross  buffoonery,  and 
Keiser,  who  had  undertaken  the  management  of  the 
theatre  in  1703,  was  dissipating  his  brilliant  talents  in 
riotous  living  and  debauchery.  Still,  there  was  much  for 
a  boy  of  Handel's  age  to  learn  in  Hamburg,  and  he 
plunged  into  the  enchanted  world  of  music  with  the 
eagerness  of  a  neophyte. 

Soon  after  his  arrival  at  Hamburg,  Handel  fell  in  with 
Johann  Mattheson,  one  of  the  cleverest  men  of  his  time, 
who,  though  only  four  years  older  than  Handel,  was 
already  a  personage  of  considerable  influence  in  Hamburg 


musical  circles.  Mattheson  was  everything  by  turns,  and 
I  nothing  long.  He  sang  at  the  opera,  played  in  the 
I  orchestra,  was  an  organist,  poet,  and  composer,  and,  in 
fact,  was  ready  to  turn  his  hand  to  anything.  He  is  now 
,  famous  chiefly  for  his  writings  on  music,  of  which  one 
of  the  most  entertaining  is  his  Grimdlage  einer  Ehren-Pforte, 
a  biographical  dictionary  of  musicians  of  priceless  value 
to  students  of  the  period,  though  it  is  always  necessary 
in  reading  it  to  make  allowance  for  Mattheson's  inordinate 
vanity  and  his  jealousy  of  rival  composers.  Of  the  youth- 
ful Handel  he  writes :  "  Handel  came  to  Hamburg  in  the 
summer  of  1703,  rich  only  in  ability  and  goodwill.  I  was 
almost  the  first  with  whom  he  made  acquaintance.  I  took 
him  round  to  all  the  choirs  and  organs  here,  and  introduced 
him  to  operas  and  concerts,  particularly  to  a  certain  house 
where  everything  was  given  up  to  music.  At  first  he 
played  second  violin  in  the  opera  orchestra,  and  behaved 
as  if  he  could  not  count  five,  being  naturally  inclined 
to  a  dry  humour.  (I  know  well  enough  that  he  will  laugh 
heartily  when  he  reads  this,  though  as  a  rule  he  laughs 
but  little.  Especially  if  he  remembers  the  pigeon-fancier, 
who  travelled  with  us  by  the  post  to  Lubeck,  or  the 
pastrycook's  son  who  blew  the  bellows  for  us  when  we 
played  in  the  Maria  Magdalena  Church  here.  That  was 
the  30th  July,  and  on  the  15th  we  had  been  for  a  water- 
party,  and  hundreds  of  similar  incidents  come  back  to  me 
as  I  write).  But  once  when  the  harpsichord  player  failed 
to  appear  he  allowed  himself  to  be  persuaded  to  take  his 
place,  and  showed  himself  a  man — a  thing  no  one  had 
before  suspected,  save  I  alone.  At  that  time  he  composed 
very  long,  long  airs,  and  really  interminable  cantatas, 
which  had  neither  the  right  kind  of  skill  nor  of  taste, 
i  though   complete   in   harmony,  but   the   lofty   schooling 

1 8  HANDEL 

of  opera  soon  trimmed  him  into  other  fashions.  He  was 
strong  at  the  organ,  stronger  than  Kuhnau  in  fugue  and 
counterpoint,  especially  ex  tempore}  but  he  knew  very 
little  about  melody  till  he  came  to  the  Hamburg  operas. 
At  that  time  he  came  nearly  every  day  and  took  his 
meals  at  my  father's  house,  and  he  gave  me  many  hints 
about  counterpoint.  I  helped  him,  too,  in  the  dramatic 
style,  so  one  hand  washed  the  other. 

"  On  the  17th  of  August  in  the  same  year  we  journeyed 
to  Lubeck,  and  in  the  carriage  made  many  double  fugues 
da  mente  non  da  penna.  I  had  been  invited  by  Magnus  von 
Wedderkopp,  the  president  of  the  council,  to  compete  for 
the  post  of  successor  to  the  renowned  organist  Dietrich 
Buxtehude.  and  I  took  Handel  with  me.  We  played  on 
almost  all  the  organs  and  harpsichords  in  the  place,  and 
made  an  agreement,  which  I  have  mentioned  in  another 
place,  that  he  should  only  play  the  organ  and  I  only  the 
harpsichord.  However,  it  turned  out  that  there  was  some 
marriage  condition  proposed  in  connection  with  the 
appointment,  for  which  we  neither  of  us  felt  the  smallest 
inclination,  so  we  said  good-bye  to  the  place,  after  havmg 
enjoyed  ourselves  extremely,  and  received  many  gratifymg 

tributes  of  respect." 

In  another  book  Mattheson  makes  a  further  reference 
to  Handel's  early  days  at  Hamburg:  "There  is  a  world- 
renowned  man,  who  when  he  first  came  to  Hamburg  only 
knew  how  to  make  regular  set  fugues,  and  imitations  were 
as  new  to  him  as  a  foreign  tongue,  and  as  difficult.     No  one 

1  In  his  Critica  Musica  (i.  326)  Mattheson  makes  special  reference  to 
Handel's  talent  for  improvisation  :  "  And  among  the  younger  men  I  have  not 
found  one  who  has  such  readiness  as  Herr  Capellmeister  Handel,  not  only 
in  composition  but  also  in  extemporisation,  as  I  have  hundreds  of  times  heard 
with  my  own  ears  in  the  greatest  amazement  and  admiration. 


knows  better  than  I  how  he  used  to  bring  me  his  first 
opera  scene  by  scene,  and  every  evening  would  take  my 
opinion  about  it — and  the  trouble  it  cost  him  to  conceal 
the  pedant !  Let  no  one  be  surprised  at  this.  I  learned 
from  him  just  as  he  learned  from  me.  Docendo  enhn 
discimusy  ^ 

The  friendship  between  Handel  and  Mattheson  lasted 
for  some  time  after  their  Lubeck  adventure,  and  Mattheson 
in  his  Ehren-Pforte  quotes  an  affectionate  letter  written 
to  him  by  Handel  in  1704.  But  later  in  the  year  matters 
became  somewhat  strained  between  the  two  friends 
though  their  quarrel  did  not  break  forth  into  open 
wrath  until  the  5th  of  December,  at  a  performance  of 
Mattheson's  opera  Cleopatra,  in  which  Handel  played  the 
harpsichord  and  Mattheson  himself  sang  the  principal 
part.  But  we  will  let  Mattheson  tell  his  own  story :  "  I 
as  composer  directed  the  performance  and  also  sang  the 
part  of  Antony,  who  has  to  die  a  good  half-hour  before 
the  end  of  the  opera.  Hitherto"  {i.e.  at  the  previous 
performances,  Cleopatra  having  been  produced  on  Oct.  20) 
"  I  had  been  accustomed  after  finishing  my  part  to  go  into 
the  orchestra  and  accompany  the  remaining  scenes,  and 
this  is  a  thing  which  incontestably  the  composer  can  do 
better  than  any  one  else.  However,  on  this  occasion 
Handel  refused  to  give  up  his  place.  On  this  account  we 
were  incited  by  some  who  were  present  to  engage  in  a 
duel  in  the  open  market-place,  after  the  performance  was 
over,  before  a  crowd  of  spectators — a  piece  of  folly  which 
might  have  turned  out  disastrously  for  both  of  us,  had  not 
my  blade  splintered  by  God's  grace  upon  a  broad  metal 
button  on  Handel's  coat.  No  harm  came  of  the  encounter, 
and  we  were  soon  reconciled  again  by  the  kind  influences 

^  Critica  Musica,  i.  243. 


of  a  worthy  councillor  and  the  manager  of  the  theatre. 
Whereupon  I  entertained  Handel  at  dinner  on  that  very- 
day,  the  30th  of  December,  after  which  we  went  together 
to  the  rehearsal  of  his  opera  Alinira,  and  were  better  friends 
than  ever." 

What  the  rights  and  wrongs  of  the  quarrel  actually 
were  it  is  now  of  course  impossible  to  say,  but  there  is 
no  particular  reason  to  suppose,  as  all  Handel's  previous 
biographers  have  taken  for  granted,  that  the  fault  rested 
entirely  with  Mattheson. 

Mainwaring  actually  falsifies  chronology  so  as  to  make 
Handel  out  to  be  a  lad  of  fourteen  at  the  time  of  the  duel, 
and  speaks  of  that  historic  event  as  an  "  assassination 
more  than  a  rencounter,"  while  Rockstro  cannot  speak  too 
bitterly  about  Mattheson's  effrontery,  treachery,  and  so 
forth,  whereas  the  saintly  Handel  is  "  too  good  a  Christian 
to  bear  malice,"  and  altogether  behaves  in  a  manner  that 
would  at  once  qualify  him  for  admission  into  the  angelic 
choir.  As  a  matter  of  fact,  Handel  was  the  last  person 
in  the  world  to  play  the  part  of  an  injured  and  long- 
suffering  innocent,  and  in  this  quarrel,  as  in  all  others  in 
which  he  was  engaged,  he  probably  gave  as  good  as  he 
got.  The  misunderstanding  between  the  two  friends 
seems  to  have  originated  in  Mattheson's  appointment,  in 
October  1704,  to  the  post  of  tutor  to  the  son  of  John 
Wyche,  the  English  envoy  at  Hamburg.  Handel  had 
previously  been  engaged  to  give  the  boy  music  lessons, 
but  his  duties  not  unnaturally  ceased  on  Mattheson's 
appointment.  Handel  considered  himself  ill-used,  and 
probably  suspected  Mattheson  of  underhand  dealings. 
His  suspicions  may  or  may  not  have  been  well-founded, 
but  there  is  no  evidence  to  prove  that  Mattheson  behaved 
badly.     As  to  the  trouble  about  the  accompaniments  to 


Cleopatra,  Handel  was  evidently  in  the  wrong,  since  he 
seems  to  have  made  no  difficulty  about  giving  up  his 
place  at  the  harpsichord  to  Mattheson  before  the  fatal 
5th  of  December.  As  Mattheson  had  accompanied  the 
closing  scenes  of  the  opera  for  more  than  six  weeks  on 
end,  he  certainly  had  every  reason  to  feel  aggrieved  at 
Handel's  sudden  determination  to  stand  upon  his  rights 
as  cembalist.  However,  the  matter  is  of  little  enough 
importance,  especially  as  it  ended  in  the  friendly  and 
comfortable  manner  above  recorded. 

Meanwhile  Handel's  talents  were  winning  wider  and 
wider  recognition.  We  have  seen  that  by  the  autumn 
of  1704  he  was  seated  in  the  conductor's  chair  at  the 
harpsichord,  in  succession  to  Keiser,  whose  loose  life  was 
fast  losing  him  popularity  and  employment  in  the  city 
which  a  few  years  ago  had  been  at  his  feet,  and  on  the 
previous  Good  Friday  he  had  produced  his  setting  of  the 
Passion  according  to  St.  John.  This  little  work,  though 
trifling  compared  to  Handel's  subsequent  achievements, 
is  specially  interesting  to  us  not  only  as  being  the  earliest 
authentic  composition  of  the  composer  that  has  survived 
to  our  day,  but  as  the  subject  of  one  of  the  first  and  by 
no  means  the  least  elaborate  essays  in  criticism  that 
musical  history  can  show.  On  the  subject  of  Handel's 
Passion  music,  Mattheson  is  discreetly  silent  in  his  sketch 
of  the  composer's  life  published  in  his  Ehren-P forte  (1740), 
yet  in  his  Critica  Musica  (1722)  he  printed  a  most  venom- 
ous criticism  of  the  work,  treating  it  in  the  utmost  detail 
and  riddling  it  with  every  shot  in  his  locker.  What 
prompted  this  attack  we  cannot  now  say  with  certainty, 
unless  it  may  have  been  Handel's  repeated  refusals  to 
contribute  a  sketch  of  his  career  to  Mattheson's 
Ehren-Pforte.     A    letter   politely   declining    Mattheson's 

2  2  HANDEL 

offer  written  in  17 19  is  extant,  which  may  well  be  the 
fons  et  origo  mali.  However  that  may  be,  Mattheson's 
criticism  remains  a  ridiculous  outburst  of  splenetic  malice. 
No  one  would  claim  that  Handel's  early  Passion  is  a 
masterpiece,  or  anything  like  one.  With  many  faults  of 
immaturity  and  inexperience,  it  has  passages  of  remark- 
able freshness  and  beauty,  and  on  the  whole  is  rich  in 
promise.  Mattheson's  onslaught  upon  the  work,  twenty 
years  after  its  production,  injured  Handel's  reputation 
as  a  composer  far  less  effectually  than  it  blackened 
Mattheson's  character  as  a  friend. 

But  if  the  John  Passion  did  little  to  spread  Handel's 
fame,  his  next  work,  the  opera  Almira,  lifted  him  at  once 
to  the  front  rank  of  living  composers.  The  libretto  was 
originally  designed  for  Keiser,  but  the  latter,  between  his 
duties  as  manager  and  the  excesses  of  his  private  life,  found 
little  time  for  composing.  However,  he  wanted  a  new 
opera  for  the  winter  season,  so  he  passed  the  libretto  on 
to  Handel,  little  dreaming  that  in  the  youthful  cembalist 
he  was  to  find  a  rival  who  would  seriously  threaten  his 
own  supremacy.^  Almira,  which  was  produced  on  the 
8th  of  January  1705,  with  Mattheson  in  the  principal 
tenor  part,  was  one  of  those  strange  mixtures  of  German 
and  Italian  which  were  popular  in  Hamburg  at  the  time. 
Many  of  the  Hamburg  operas,  including  Ab)iira,  were 
translated  from  the  Italian,  and  it  was  usual  to  leave  a 
certain  number  of  solo  numbers  in  the  original  for  the 
sake  of  the  singers  who  wanted  to  show  off  their  voices 
to  the  best  advantage,  and  fancied  that  they  could  do  so 
more  effectually  in  the  liquid  accents  of  the  south.  The 
audience,  on  the  other  hand,  unlike  opera-goers  of  to-day, 

^  F.  A.  Voigt,  "  Reinhard Keiser."    {Vierteljahrsschrift fur  Musikwissen- 
schaft,  Jahrg.  vi.) 


wanted  to  be  able  to  follow  the  plot,  so  for  their  benefit 
the  recitatives  and  the  songs  of  the  comic  characters  were 
translated  into  the  vernacular.  The  result  must  have 
been  somewhat  surprising,  but  we  must  not  be  too  hard 
upon  Hamburg  taste,  for  the  same  polyglot  system  was 
employed  in  London  as  well  about  that  time.  Almira 
was  a  triumphant  success,  and  ran  uninterruptedly  until 
the  25th  of  February,  when  it  was  replaced  by  Handel's 
second  opera  Nero,  a  work  of  which  the  music  has  un- 
fortunately perished.  Its  freshness  and  originality  charmed 
the  ears  that  were  weary  of  Reiser's  waning  talent,  and 
its  faults  of  inexperience  were  forgiven  in  the  dazzling 
splendour  of  a  sumptuous  mounting. 

Almira  made  Handel  many  friends,  and  one  enemy. 
Keiser  alone  looked  on  gloomily  at  his  young  comrade's 
success,  and  listened  unwillingly  to  his  praises.  To  such 
lengths  did  his  jealousy  carry  him  that  he  determined  to 
challenge  Handel's  supremacy  by  setting  the  libretto  of 
Almira  himself.  He  did  so,  and  produced  his  version  in 
the  following  autumn  with  so  little  success,  that  very 
soon  afterwards  he  shook  the  dust  of  Hamburg  from  his 
feet,  and  retired  to  the  seclusion  of  his  native  village,  a 
defeated  and  disappointed  man. 

Meanwhile,  the  success  of  Almira  turned  Handel's 
thoughts  to  wider  fields  and  ampler  skies.  Some  years 
previously  he  had  made  the  acquaintance  of  a  man  who 
was  destined  to  exercise  an  important  influence  upon  his 
career.  This  was  Prince  Giovanni  Gastone  dei  Medici, 
the  second  son  of  Cosmo  III,  the  Grand  Duke  of  Tuscany, 
a  man  of  most  unsavoury  reputation,  whose  thousand 
vices  have  so  long  been  notorious  that  his  one  virtue 
— that  of  having  turned  Handel's  thoughts  to  Italy — 
should  in  common  kindness  be  given  its  proper  place  in 


history.  Gian  Gastone,  as  he  was  always  called,  who  was 
born  in  1671,  was  a  man  of  truly  Tuscan  refinement, 
culture,  and  sensibility,  though  his  morals  were  de- 
plorable. He  was  hardly  more  than  a  boy  when  his 
father,  anxious  for  the  Medici  succession,  hurried  him 
into  a  loveless  marriage  with  a  princess  of  Saxe- 
Lauenburg,  a  woman  homely  of  feature,  excessively 
stout,  coarse  in  nature  and  violent  in  temper,  who  cared 
for  nothing  but  hunting,  and  loved  animals  more  than 
men.  Exiled  from  his  beloved  Florence  to  a  castle  in 
the  wilds  of  Bohemia,  linked  to  a  virago  whom  he 
detested,  Gian  Gastone  sank  almost  involuntarily  into 
debauchery  and  turpitude.  At  times  he  would  escape 
from  the  loathsome  embraces  of  his  gaoleress,  and  seek 
consolation  in  such  dissipation  as  the  neighbouring 
German  cities  could  offer.  It  was  no  doubt  but  a  poor 
substitute  for  the  luxurious  enchantment  of  Italy,  but 
it  was  something  to  hear  music  and  to  meet  men  who 
could  talk  to  him  of  other  things  than  shooting  birds  or 
chasing  stags.  On  one  of  these  excursions  fate  led  his 
steps  to  Hamburg.  In  the  winter  of  1703-4  he  stayed 
there  for  several  months,  lost  a  great  deal  of  money  at 
play,  and  made  friends  with  Handel.  Gian  Gastone  was 
something  of  a  musician  himself  In  his  younger  days 
he  had  played  the  flute,  and  like  a  true  Florentine  he 
adored  opera.  It  is  easy  to  imagine  with  what  eloquence 
he  discoursed  upon  his  lost  fatherland,  upon  the  art  of 
Italy,  and  the  magic  of  her  wondrous  sky.  Handel 
listened  with  greedy  ears,  and  within  him  rose  longings 
for  that  enchanted  land  of  the  south,  whose  very  name 
was  music,  where  genius  blossomed  as  it  could  never 
blossom  in  the  mists  of  the  northern  ocean.  Mainwaring's 
account  of  Handel's  relations  with  Gian  Gastone,  which 


has  been  followed  by  subsequent  biographers,  is  obviously 
sown  with  inaccuracies.  He  represents  their  acquaintance 
as  dating  from  the  production  of  Alniira,  which  is  out 
of  the  question,  since  by  the  autumn  of  1704  Gian  Gastone 
was  back  in  Bohemia  trying  his  utmost  to  persuade  his 
wife  to  accompany  him  to  Florence.^  We  may  be  pretty 
certain  also  that  the  Prince  never  offered  to  pay  Handel's 
expenses  on  a  trip  to  Italy. 

Gian  Gastone  wanted  all  the  money  he  could  lay 
hands  upon  for  himself,  and  never  was  a  man  in  a  worse 
position  for  playing  Maecenas  to  a  promising  young 
musician.  He  was  always  in  debt,  and  his  correspond- 
ence with  his  father  is  one  long  cry  for  money.  As  a 
matter  of  fact,  while  he  was  actually  at  Hamburg,  his  sister, 
the  Electress  Palatine,  was  moving  heaven  and  earth  on 
his  behalf  to  raise  money  to  pay  his  gaming  debts,  and 
before  he  could  leave  Prague  for  Italy  in  1705  he  had  to 
raise  a  hundred  thousand  florins  in  order  to  satisfy  his 
creditors.  But  if  Gian  Gastone  was  not  in  a  position  to 
play  the  princely  patron,  he  could  promise  Handel  a 
warm  and  kindly  reception  at  his  father's  court  whenever 
he  was  able  to  make  the  journey  south.  "With  this  object 
in  view,  Handel  settled  down  to  a  course  of  steady  work, 
in  order  to  make  the  money  necessary  for  the  journey  to 
Italy  which  he  felt  was  necessary  for  his  artistic  develop- 
ment. After  the  production  of  Nero  he  seems  to  have 
had  little  to  do  with  the  theatre.  Probably  he  found  that 
he  made  more  money  by  giving  private  lessons,  and  the 
atmosphere  of  envy,  malice,  and  all  uncharitableness  which 
seems  to  have  brooded  permanently  over  the  Hamburg 
theatre  was  no  doubt  distasteful  to  a  man  of  his  honest 
and  straightforward    character.     Some  time  in    1706   he 

^  Robiony,  Gli  Ultimi  del  ATedici. 


wrote  a  third  opera,  Florindo  und  Daphne,  which,  however, 
was  not  produced  until  1708/  when  it  was  given  in  two 
sections  on  account  of  its  extreme  length.  But  by  that 
time  Handel  was  far  away. 

The  date  of  his  departure  from  Hamburg  is  not  known. 
Most  likely  it  took  place  in  the  summer  or  early  autumn 
of  1706,  for  Prince  Gian  Gastone  was  at  that  time  staying 
in  Florence,  and  it  is  reasonable  to  suppose  that  Handel 
would  wish  to  be  introduced  to  the  Grand  Ducal  court 
under  his  friend's  auspices.  According  to  Mattheson,  he 
travelled  in  company  with  another  friend  named  von 
Binitz,  who  paid  all  his  expenses.  In  all  probability 
we  shall  not  be  far  wrong  if  we  picture  Handel  leaving 
Hamburg  in  July,  paying  a  flying  visit  to  his  mother  at 
Halle  on  his  way  south,  entering  Italy  by  the  well-trodden 
Brenner  route,  and  reaching  Florence  in  September  or 
October  1706. 

^  Mattheson,  Der  Musikalische  Patriot. 

HANDEL  IN  ITALY,  1706-1710 

TUSCANY  was  groaning  beneath  the  brainless  and 
bigoted  sway  of  the  Grand  Duke  Cosmo  III  when 
Handel  first  set  foot  in  Florence.  The  glorious  traditions 
of  Florentine  art  and  science  were  a  thing  of  the  past,  and 
the  country  was  sunk  in  priest-ridden  sloth,  squalor,  and 
poverty.  Of  all  the  arts,  music  alone  received  any  en- 
couragement at  the  court,  and  this  was  due  not  to  the 
Grand  Duke,  but  to  his  eldest  son  Ferdinand,  the  Gran 
Principe,  as  he  was  always  called,  who  was  an  excellent 
musician,  and  an  enlightened  and  intelligent  patron  of  the 
art.  Ferdinand  kept  up  the  best  traditions  of  the  Medici 
family  in  this  respect.  All  forms  of  music  received  his 
patronage,  but  to  opera  he  was  especially  devoted.  In 
his  beautiful  villa  at  Pratolino,  high  up  in  the  lovely  valley 
of  the  Mugnone,  some  dozen  miles  from  Florence,  he  had 
built  a  magnificent  theatre,  where  every  year  operatic 
performances  were  given  under  his  auspices,  that  were 
the  talk  of  all  Italy.  To  Ferdinand  music  was  a  second 
religion.  It  was  the  guiding  principle  that  regulated  his 
life.  Early  in  the  autumn  it  was  his  custom  to  repair  to 
Pratolino,  where  his  villeggiatura  was  spent  in  the  society 
of  the  choicest  singers  and  musicians  that  Italy  could 
produce.     The   opening    of    the    Carnival   drew   him    to 


Florence,  where  masquerades,  festivals,  and  operatic  per- 
formances alternated  in  a  bewildering  whirl  of  gaiety. 
From  Florence  he  went  to  Pisa  for  hunting,  and  in  the 
sultry  days  of  summer  he  sought  the  sea-breezes  of 
Leghorn,  a  city  for  which  he  had  a  special  predilection, 
and  whose  theatre  under  his  patronage  became  famous  for 
the  excellence  of  its  operatic  performances.^  Ferdinand 
was  on  the  friendliest  terms  with  Alessandro  Scarlatti  and 
other  noted  musicians  of  the  day,  indeed  Scarlatti's  letters 
to  him  which  are  preserved  in  the  Arckivio  Mediceo  show 
that  his  musical  culture  was  something  far  above  that 
of  the  average  dilettante  princeling.  We  find  Scarlatti 
thanking  him  for  suggestions,  and  consulting  him  as  to 
the  composition  of  his  operas  in  a  manner  very  different 
from  that  in  which  the  humble  composer  usually  adopts 
in  addressing  his  princely  patron.  To  Ferdinand  Handel 
was  introduced  by  his  friend  Gian  Gastone,  who  was  in 
Florence  from  June  1705  to  November  1706,  and  had 
doubtless  given  his  brother  a  glowing  description  of  the 
new  musical  genius  whom  he  had  discovered  in  far-away 
Hamburg,  long  before  Handel  had  appeared  upon  the 

Handel  probably  reached  Florence  in  the  autumn  of 
1706,  and  was  no  doubt  speedily  summoned  to  Pratolino, 
where  Ferdinand  was  by  that  time  established  with  his 
court.  For  three  or  four  years  Alessandro  Scarlatti  had 
been  Ferdinand's  favourite  musician,  and  had  had  the 
honour  of  supplying  Pratolino  with  its  annual  novelty, 
but  in  1706  a  coldness  seems  to  have  arisen  between  the 
composer  and  his  Mjecenas,  and  he  was  succeeded  in  the 
latter's  good  graces  by  Perti.     It  is  possible  that  during 

^  Anonymous  MS.  biography  of  Ferdinand  in  the  possession  of  Mr.  Herbert 


the  interregnum  Handel  may  have  enjoyed  a  brief  period 
of  court  favour.  Ferdinand  used  to  complain  of  the 
"  melancholy"  character  of  Scarlatti's  operas,  and  possibly 
he  turned  to  Handel  in  the  hope  of  hearing  something 
more  vivacious. 

Handel's  first  opera,  Rodrigo,  was  certainly  written 
during  his  stay  at  Florence,  and  probably  in  response 
to  a  commission  from  Ferdinand,  but  no  record  of  its 
production  has  survived.  It  is  not  mentioned  by  Allacci, 
whose  Drainmaturgia  (Venice,  1755)  is  a  tolerably  com- 
plete record  of  the  Italian  opera  of  the  period,  though  he 
duly  records  the  performance  of  a  certain  Rodei^ico,  which 
was  given  in  the  presence  of  Ferdinand  in  1692  by  the 
Accademia  degli  Innominati.  Very  possibly  it  was  the 
libretto  of  this  opera  which,  according  to  the  fashion  of 
the  time,  was  re-set  by  Handel.  Had  Rodrigo  been  given 
at  Pratolino,  some  mention  of  it  would  almost  infallibly 
have  occurred  in  the  Medicean  archives.  But  Puliti, 
whose  valuable  Cenni  storici  della  vita  di  Ferdinando  del 
Medici  gives  an  exhaustive  catalogue  of  the  musical  works 
performed  at  Pratolino,  knows  nothing  of  the  details  ot 
its  production,  though  he  corrects  Mainwaring's  statement 
with  regard  to  the  present  which  Handel  received  in 
return  for  his  opera.  According  to  him  it  was  Prince 
Ferdinand,  and  not  the  Grand  Duke,  who  gave  Handel 
a  hundred  sequins  together  with  a  service,  not  of  silver, 
as  Mainwaring  states,  but  of  porcelain. 

I  had  imagined  that  Rodrigo  might  have  been  performed 
at  Leghorn,  during  one  of  Ferdinand's  summer  visits 
to  the  sea,  but  Mr.  Montgomery  Carmichael,  who  has 
investigated  the  matter  with  the  utmost  kindness  and 
assiduity,  assures  me  that  this  is  not  the  case.  Probably 
Rodrigo  was  produced  in  Florence  itself.     At   that  time 


the  Teatro  della  Pergola  was  not  used  for  opera,  but  the 
Teatro  di  Via  del  Cocomero  (now  the  Teatro  Niccolini) 
was  open,  and  this  may  have  been  the  scene  of  Rodrigds 
production.  It  is  more  likely,  however,  that  it  was 
privately  performed  in  the  Pitti  Palace,  as  was  the  case 
with  an  opera  called  Enea  in  Italia,  which  was  given  there 
in  1698  in  honour  of  the  birthday  of  the  Grand  Duchess 

It  is,  of  course,  possible  that  the  production  of 
Rodrigo  took  place  not  on  the  occasion  of  Handel's  first 
visit  to  Florence,  but  when  he  was  there  for  the  second 
time  in  the  autumn  of  the  same  year  on  his  way  to  Venice. 
Of  this  second  visit  we  know  but  little,  and  in  all  prob- 
ability it  was  a  short  one.  Handel  was  in  Florence  for 
the  third  time  on  his  way  to  Venice  in  the  autumn  of 
1709  before  leaving  Italy  altogether,  but  it  is  almost 
impossible  that  Rodrigo  can  have  been  performed  then, 
owing  to  Ferdinand's  bad  health.  On  the  whole,  the 
probility  is  that  Rodrigo  was  written  in  the  autumn  of  1706, 
and  produced  during  the  Carnival  season  of  1707. 

Rodrigo  has  proved  a  stumbling-block  to  Handel's 
biographers  in  many  ways,  not  least  in  the  romantically 
sentimental  legend  of  Vittoria  Tesi  the  singer,  which  has 
twined  itself  around  the  story  of  the  opera's  production, 
and  which  it  is  now  my  mournful  duty  to  disprove.  Let 
us  trace  the  legend  to  its  source.  Mainwaring  writes : 
"  Vittoria,  who  was  much  admired  both  as  an  actress  and 
a  singer,  bore  a  principal  part  in  this  opera.  She  was  a 
fine  woman,  and  had  for  some  time  been  much  in  the  good 
graces  of  His  Serene  Highness."  The  reverend  gentleman 
then  suggests  that  "  Handel's  youth  and  comeliness,  joined 
with  his  fame  and  abilities  in  music,  had  made  impressions 
on    her    heart."     It   will    be    observed   that    Mainwaring 


speaks  of  the  lady  merely  as  Vittoria.  It  was  left  for 
Chrysander  to  jump  to  the  conclusion  that  the  famous 
Vittoria  Tesi  was  the  singer  in  question,  and  under  his 
fostering  care  the  legend  grew  to  ample  proportions,  so 
that  the  passion  of  la  Tesi  for  Handel,  her  pursuit  of  him 
to  Venice,  and  the  triumphs  that  she  there  won  in  his 
Agrippina,  are  now  part  of  the  stock-in-trade  of  every 
hack  musical  historian.  Neither  Chrysander  nor  his 
copyists  seem  to  have  remembered  the  fact  that  Vittoria 
Tesi  was  a  contralto,  whereas  the  heroines  in  Rodrigo 
and  Agrippina  are  both  sopranos.  But  biographers  are 
notorious  sentimentalists,  and  in  the  supposed  necessity  of 
fitting  out  their  hero  with  an  appropriate  love  story  such 
trifles  as  this  are  easily  ignored.  As  a  matter  of  fact, 
Vittoria  Tesi  at  the  date  of  the  production  of  Rodrigo  was 
precisely  seven  years  old.  Her  baptismal  register  exists 
in  Florence,  and  has  been  recently  printed  by  Signer 
Ademollo,^  to  whom  is  due  all  the  credit  of  exploding 
Chrysander's  absurd  legend.  Vittoria  Tesi  was  born  in 
1700,  and  did  not  make  her  debut  until  1716,  when  she 
sang  at  Parma  with  the  celebrated  Cuzzoni  in  a  pastoral 
entitled  Dafne.  The  heroine  of  Rodrigo  was  a  very 
different  person — to  wit,  Vittoria  Tarquini,  familiarly 
called  la  Bovibace  or  Bambagia,  a  brilliant  singer  who  had 
adorned  Ferdinand's  court  since  1699,  and  had  taken  a 
promiment  part  in  the  operatic  performances  at  Pratolino. 
As  for  la  Bonibaces  penchant  for  Handel,  I  am  not  inclined 
to  treat  it  very  seriously.  She  was  a  clever  woman,  and 
contrived  to  remain  in  the  good  graces  of  the  Prince 
almost  up  to  the  day  of  her  death.  The  story  of  her 
ousting  a  long-established  favourite  is  told  with  much 
gusto   in  Luca   Ombrosi's   sketch   of  Ferdinand's  career, 

^  Niiova  Antologia,  i6th  July  1889. 


and  evidently  she  knew  far  too  well  which  side  her  bread 
was  buttered  to  venture  into  a  damaging  liaison  with  a 
travelling  musician.  She  did  not  sing  in  Agrippina,  the 
cast  of  which  is  perfectly  well  known,  and  the  story  of 
her  following  Handel  to  Venice  is  obviously  pure 

Soon  after  the  production  of  Rodrigo,  Handel  started 
for  Rome,  intending  doubtless  to  spend  Holy  Week 
and  Easter  there,  in  order  to  hear  the  world-famous 
music  associated  with  the  services  of  the  Church.  With 
regard  to  Handel's  arrival  at  Rome  we  are  on  com- 
paratively safe  ground.  We  know  by  the  signed  and 
dated  autograph  of  a  setting  of  the  Dixit  Dominus  that 
he  was  there  on  4th  April  1707,  and  the  autograph  of 
a  Laudate  Pueri  further  assures  us  that  he  was  still 
there  on  8th  July.  The  general  impression  of  his 
biographers  seems  to  be  that  he  then  returned  to 
Florence,  driven  from  Rome  by  the  unhealthy  climate  of 
the  summer  and  autumn  months.  But  this  theory  is 
founded  upon  a  delusion.  In  those  days  there  existed 
no  prejudice  against  the  Roman  summer,  and  the  smart 
society  of  Rome  braved  the  terrors  of  the  dog-days  with 
the  utmost  equanimity — indeed  August  seems  to  have  been 
a  favourite  month  for  social  festivities.  ^  Moreover,  con- 
clusive proof  of  Handel's  presence  in  Rome  during  the 
summer  months  is  furnished  byan  interesting  letter  now  pre- 
served in  the  Medici  archives,  written  in  Rome  on  the  24th 
of  September  1707.^  It  is  addressed  by  a  certain  Annibale 
Merlini  to  Ferdinand  dei  Medici,  giving  a  description  of  a 
juvenile  prodigy  who  was  at  that  time  the  great  musical 
sensation  of  the  Eternal  City.     "  He  is   a  lad  of  twelve 

^  AdemoUo,  I  teatri  di  Roma,  pp.  107,  165,  etc. 
2  Archivio  Mediceo,  Filza  5897. 


years,"  writes  Merlini,  "  a  Roman  by  birth,  who,  though  of 
so  tender  an  age,  plays  the  arciliiito  with  such  science  and 
freedom  that  if  compositions  he  has  never  even  seen  are 
put  before  him  he  rivals  the  most  experienced  and  cele- 
brated professors,  and  wins  great  admiration  and  well- 
deserved  applause.  He  appears  at  the  concerts  and  leading 
academies  of  Rome,  as,  for  instance,  at  that  of  His  Eminence 
Cardinal  Ottoboni,  and  at  that  which  continues  daily  for 
all  the  year  at  the  Casa  Colonna,  and  in  the  Collegio 
Clementine,  and  at  these  as  in  other  public  academies  he 
plays  a  solo  and  in  company  with  all  kinds  of  virtuosi. 
And  all  this  can  be  testified  by  the  famous  Saxon,  v/ho  has 
heard  him  in  the  Casa  Ottoboni,  and  in  the  Casa  Colonna 
has  played  with  him,  and  plays  there  continually."^ 

In  Rome,  indeed,  there  was  much  to  detain  Handel. 
The  composor  of  Rodrigo  was  a  person  of  consideration, 
and  Handel  doubtless  brought  letters  of  introduction  from 
his  friends  at  Florence  to  the  leaders  of  cultivated  society  in 
Rome.  Of  these  Cardinal  Ottoboni,  the  nephew  of  Pope 
Alexander  Vlll,  and  the  friend  and  correspondent  of 
Ferdinand  dei  Medici,  was  the  most  famous  and  brilliant. 
Ottoboni  was  at  that  time  a  man  of  forty,  handsome  in 
feature,  aristocratic  in  manner,  profoundly  versed  in  all 
the  culture  of  the  age  and  a  devoted  lover  of  music.  He 
was  enormously  rich,  his  revenues  from  the  various  bene- 
fices that  he  held  amounting  to  80,000  scudi  a  year, 
exclusive  of  his  private  fortune.  His  charity  was  inex- 
haustible. He  founded  a  free  dispensary  for  the  poor, 
entertained  pilgrims  at  his  own  table,  and  inaugurated 
various  benevolent  institutions.  But  his  pet  hobby  was 
his  "  Accademia  poetico  -  musicale,"  to  which  Merlini 
refers.  The  aim  of  the  Academy,  which  was  founded 
^  See  Appendix  A. 


in  1701,  was  the  revival  of  the  ancient  glories  of  Italian 
sacred  music.  Ottoboni  gathered  around  him  all  the  poets 
and  musicians  of  Rome.  He  held  frequent  concerts, 
instituted  competitions  and  gave  magnificent  prizes.  He 
was  something  of  a  poet  himself,  and  wrote  some  capital 
opera  and  oratorio  libretti  for  Scarlatti.  In  his  young 
days,  too,  he  had  tried  his  hand  at  musical  composition, 
though  the  failure  of  his  opera  Colombo  in  1692  seems 
to  have  checked  his  ambition  in  that  direction. 

Blainville,  who  had  been  secretary  to  the  States-General 
at  the  Court  of  Spain,  was  in  Rome  in  the  spring  of  1707, 
and  has  left  an  account  of  a  concert  at  Cardinal  Ottoboni's, 
at  which  in  all  probability  Handel  himself  was  present : 
"  His  Eminence,"  he  writes,  "  keeps  in  his  pay  the  best 
musicians  and  performers  in  Rome,  and  amongst  others 
the  famous  Archangelo  Corelli  and  young  Paolucci,  who 
is  reckoned  the  finest  voice  in  Europe,  so  that  every 
Wednesday  he  has  an  excellent  concert  in  his  palace,  and 
we  assisted  there  this  very  day  (14th  May  1707).  We 
were  there  served  with  iced  and  other  delicate  liquors,  and 
this  is  likewise  the  custom  when  the  Cardinals  or  Roman 
princes  visit  each  other.  But  the  greatest  inconveniency 
in  all  these  concerts  and  visits  is  that  one  is  pestered  with 
swarms  of  trifling  little  Abbes,  who  come  thither  on  purpose 
to  fill  their  bellies  with  these  liquors,  and  to  carry  off  the 
crystal  bottles  with  the  napkins  into  the  bargain."  ^ 

Handel  was,  as  we  have  seen,  a  welcome  visitor  at 
Ottoboni's  splendid  palace,  hard  by  the  Church  of  St. 
Lorenzo  in  Damaso,  but,  being  a  foreigner,  he  does  not 
seem  to  have  been  actually  admitted  to  membership  of 
the  Academy.  Under  Ottoboni's  roof  he  rubbed  shoulders 
with  some  of  the  most  famous  of  living  musicians,  among 

^  Blainville,  Travels,  vol.  ii.  chap.  xl. 


them  Caldara,  Corelli,  and  Alessandro  Scarlatti. 
Here  also  he  met  Cardinal  Benedetto  Panfili,  who  wrote 
for  him  the  libretto  of  //  Trionfo  del  Tempo,  and  the 
Marquis  di  RuspoH,  one  of  Scarlatti's  chief  patrons,  in 
whose  house  Handel  was  staying  when  he  wrote  his 
oratorio  La  Resurrezione  in  April  1708.  Ruspoli  was 
one  of  the  leading  lights  of  the  famous  Academy  of  the 
Arcadians,  which  had  been  founded  in  1690  "to  further 
the  cultivation  of  the  sciences  and  to  awake  throughout 
Italy  the  taste  for  humane  letters,  and  in  particular  for 
poetry  in  the  vulgar  tongue."  Everybody  in  Rome  who 
had  any  pretensions  to  culture  was  an  Arcadian.  Prelates 
and  painters,  musicians  and  poets  met  on  equal  terms 
in  the  delicious  gardens  of  the  Roman  nobility,  where 
the  academical  meetings  took  place.  The  fiction  of 
Arcadia  was  kept  up  even  in  nomenclature.  Every 
Arcadian  was  known  by  a  pastoral  name.  Corelli  was 
Arcimelo,  Alessandro  Scarlatti  Terpandro,  and  Pasquini 
Protico.  These  three  famous  musicians  were  admitted 
members  in  1706,  and  from  that  time  forward  music 
played  a  prominent  part  in  the  life  of  the  Academy. 
No  one  under  the  age  of  twenty-four  was  available  for 
membership,  so  that  Handel  never  actually  belonged  to 
the  Academy ;  but  he  was  a  frequent  guest  at  the  meetings, 
and  took  his  full  share  in  the  musical  performances. 

Mr.  E.  J.  Dent,  in  his  admirable  biography  of  Scar- 
latti, quotes  an  interesting  description  from  Crescimbeni's 
Arcadia  of  one  of  the  Academy's  music-meetings,  which 
gives  a  good  idea  of  the  kind  of  entertainment  at  which 
Handel  must  often  have  assisted  : 

"  First  came  a  sinfonia  of  Corelli,  then  two  cantatas  of 
Pasquini  to  words  by  Gian  Battista  Felici  Zappi  (Tirsi) 
After  this  came  a    duet    by  Scarlatti,   also  to  words  by 


Zappi,  followed  by  an  instrumental  piece  of  some  sort. 
Scarlatti  was  at  the  harpsichord,  but  managed  at  the  same 
time  to  observe  that  Zappi  was  in  process  of  thinking  out 
a  new  poem.  He  begged  Zappi  to  produce  it ;  Zappi 
agreed  to  do  so  on  condition  that  Scarlatti  set  it  to  music 
at  once.  Scarlatti  assented,  and  '  no  sooner  had  Tirsi 
finished  his  recital  than  Terpandro,  with  a  truly  stupend- 
ous promptness,  began  to  transcribe  the  verses  recited, 
with  the  music  thereto ;  and  when  these  had  been  sung, 
the  souls  of  those  present  received  of  them  so  great 
delight,  that  they  not  only  obliged  the  singer  to  repeat 
the  song  again  and  again,  but  also  urged  both  poet  and 
musician  to  display  their  skill  afresh.'  After  some  pressing 
Zappi  and  Scarlatti  repeated  their  impromptu  perform- 
ance, and  '  meanwhile  every  one  was  astonished  to  see  how 
two  such  excellent  masters,  the  one  of  poetry  and  the 
other  of  music,  did  contend  ;  and  this  contention  was  so 
close  that  scarce  had  the  one  finished  repeating  the  last 
line  of  the  new  air  than  the  other  ended  the  last  stave 
of  the  music' " 

Handel  left  Rome  some  time  in  the  autumn  of  1707, 
and  took  his  way  northwards  to  Venice. 

He  may  have  passed  through  Florence  on  his  way, 
but  if  so  it  is  not  likely  that  he  stayed  there  very  long.^ 
Prince  Ferdinand  was  at  Pratolino  all  that  autumn,  busy 
with  the  production  of  Perti's  Dionisio,  which  had  been 
specially  composed  for  him,  and  Handel  probably  pushed 
on  to  Venice  as  quickly  as  he  could.  The  precise  date 
of  his  arrival  cannot  now  be  discovered,  but  it  is  known 
that   he   was   presented    to   Prince    Ernest   Augustus   of 

*  It  was  by  no  means  the  universal  custom  in  those  days  to  travel  from 
Rome  to  Venice  via  Florence.  Both  Misson  and  Blainville  went  from 
Venice  to  Rome  by  Ancona,  Loretto,  Foligno,  and  Terni. 


Hanover  on  the  occasion  of  this  visit,  and  as  the  Prince 
arrived  in  Venice  on  30th  September,  and  departed  at 
the  end  of  November,^  we  know  at  any  rate  that  the 
historians  who  have  represented  Handel  as  only  arriving 
in  Venice  in  time  for  the  Carnival  are  wrong.  In  Venice 
Handel  found  himself  in  the  home  of  opera.  In  Florence 
opera  was  the  plaything  of  princes,  and  at  Rome  papal 
prejudice  forbade  it  altogether,  but  at  Venice  it  was 
beloved  of  rich  and  poor  alike,  and  at  that  time  no  fewer 
than  seven  ^  theatres  were  devoted  to  its  cultivation. 

Handel  doubtless  visited  all  of  them,  and  heard  the 
operas  of  Lotti,  Gasparini,  Albinoni  and  other  famous 
composers,  and  listened  to  the  mellifluous  tones  of  Senesino, 
who  was  then  singing  at  the  Teatro  San  Cassiano,  but  he 
wrote  nothing  himself^ 

Why  this  was  so,  it  is  now  hard  to  say.  Perhaps, 
being  a  foreigner,  he  found  the  doors  of  the  theatres 
closed  to  him,  or  it  is  possible  that  he  regarded  his  visit 

^  Brief e  des  Herzogs  Ernst  August  zu  Braunschweig- Liineburg  an  T.  F.  D, 
von  Wendt,  1 902. 

2  Misson,  New  Voyage  to  Italy,  1 7 14,  vol.  i.  pt.  i. 

^  Handel's  two  visits  to  Venice  have  given  grievous  cause  for  stumbling  to 
all  his  biographers. 

The  original  Jeroboam  the  son  of  Nebat  who  made  Israel  to  sin  was 
Mainwaring,  who,  notoriously  inaccurate  as  he  was  with  regard  to  times  and 
seasons,  confused  the  two  visits,  and  placed  the  production  of  Agrippina  dur- 
ing the  first  instead  of  the  second.  This  error  has  been  reproduced  by  almost 
all  Handel's  subsequent  biographers,  despite  the  fact  staring  them  in  the  face 
in  all  the  records  of  Venetian  operatic  history  that  Agrippina  was  produced 
during  the  Carnival  season  of  1709-10.  In  the  first  volume  of  his  biography 
of  Handel,  published  in  1858,  Chrysander  followed  Mainwaring's  error,  but 
many  years  afterwards  he  admitted  his  mistake.  Unfortunately  his  recanta- 
tion appeared  in  a  periodical  little  read  in  England  {Vierteljahrsschrift  fiir 
Musikwissenschaft,  vol.  x.  1894),  and  passed  almost  unnoticed,  so  that 
modern  writers  on  Handel  have  gone  on  light-heartedly  copying  the 
oric:inal  blunder. 


to  Venice  as  a  holiday,  and  did  not  care  to  undertake 
serious  work.  He  seems,  at  any  rate,  to  have  enjoyed 
himself,  and  to  have  made  friends  with  many  useful  and 
influential  people.  The  story  of  his  meeting  with  Domenico 
Scarlatti,  who  was  at  Venice  at  the  time  studying  with 
Gasparini,  is  well  known. 

It  took  place  at  a  masquerade,  where  Handel  was 
persuaded  to  play  the  harpsichord.  The  beauty  of  his 
performance  astonished  the  guests,  and  every  one  wondered 
who  the  masked  musician  could  be  who  achieved  such 
miracles  of  dexterity,  until  Scarlatti,  who  had  probably 
heard  from  friends  in  Rome  of  Handel's  accomplishments, 
cried  out  that  it  must  be  either  the  famous  Saxon  or  the 

From  that  time  forward  Handel  and  Domenico  were 
fast  friends.  They  returned  together  from  Venice  to 
Rome,  and  often  met  in  friendly  rivalry  in  the  palace  of 
Cardinal  Ottoboni  or  of  some  other  musical  magnate.  It 
was  at  one  of  the  meetings  of  the  Cardinal's  Academy  that 
the  famous  contest  between  the  two  virtuosi  took  place,  in 
which  they  were  adjudged  equal  so  far  as  the  harpsichord 
was  concerned,  while  on  the  organ  Handel  was  admittedly 
superior.  All  his  life  long  Domenico  retained  his  respect 
and  admiration  for  Handel,  and  in  his  later  years  he  is 
said  never  to  have  mentioned  Handel's  name  without 
crossing  himself.  It  is  not,  however,  recorded  that  Handel 
crossed  himself  at  the  name  of  Scarlatti. 

Reference  has  already  been  made  to  Handel's  meeting 
with  Prince  Ernest  Augustus  of  Hanover.  The  Prince 
was  the  youngest  brother  of  the  Elector  of  Hanover,  who 
a  few  years  later  became  George  I  of  England,  From  all 
accounts,  he  was  a  singularly  amiable  young  man,  and  his 
correspondence  shows  him  to  have  been  a  great  lover  of 


music.  Handel  met  him  at  a  fortunate  moment.  The 
Prince  was  having  a  dull  time  in  Venice,  for  his  two 
companions,  Baron  von  Pallandt  and  Kammerherr  van 
Fabrice/  seem  to  have  spent  most  of  their  time  in  houses 
of  ill  fame,  and  left  their  royal  master  to  amuse  himself 
as  best  he  could.  Consequently  Ernest  Augustus  made  a 
great  deal  of  Handel,  and  ended  by  begging  him  to  pay  a 
visit  to  Hanover  when  his  Italian  tour  was  over. 

Another  grandee  who  crossed  Handel's  path  in 
Venice  was  the  Duke  of  Manchester,^  who  was  an 
ardent  patron  of  music,  and  worked  as  hard  as  any  man 
of  his  time  towards  establishing  Italian  opera  in  England. 
The  Duke  was  Ambassador  Extraordinary  at  Venice 
from  July  1707  to  October  1708,  and  entered  with  the 
utmost  gusto  into  the  musical  life  of  the  city.^  He  gave 
Vanbrugh  material  help  in  choosing  the  singers  for  his 
new  opera-house  in  the  Haymarket,  and,  to  judge  by 
his  correspondence,  spent  a  good  deal  more  of  his  time 
in  listening  to  the  newest  virtuosi  and  in  shopping  for 
the  Duchess  of  Marlborough  than  in  transacting  official 
business.  Where  he  first  met  Handel  we  do  not  know, 
but  he  seems  to  have  been  struck  by  the  young  com- 
poser's talent,  and  at  once  invited  him  to  London. 
Handel's  arrangements  would  not  allow  him  to  accept 
the  invitation  forthwith,  but  there  is  no  doubt  that  the 
Duke's  amiable  suggestion  first  turned  his  thoughts  in 
the  direction  of  England. 

Meanwhile    he    was    due   back    in    Rome,   where   his 

^  It  is  worth  while  to  mention  the  names  of  these  egregious  persons, 
since  it  has  often  been  stated  that  the  Prince  was  accompanied  by  Baron  von 
Kielmansegg  and  Steffani. 

^  Gentleman^ s  Magazine,  vol.  xxx.  p.  24. 

^  Duke  of  Manchester,  Cotirt  and  Society  from  Elizabeth  to  Ajine,  vol.  ii. 


friends  the  Arcadians  were  eagerly  awaiting  him.  The 
chronology  of  Handel's  Italian  journeys  is  distressingly 
vague,  and  we  know  not  whether  Handel  stayed  in 
Venice  for  the  Carnival,  or  kept  his  Christmas  in  Rome. 
There  is  an  old  tradition  that  Handel  spent  a  Christmas 
in  Rome,  and  heard  the  zampognari  or  pifferari,  as  the 
shepherds  of  the  Abruzzi  are  called,  who  at  that  season 
descend  from  the  mountains  and  play  their  quaint 
bagpipe  melodies  in  the  streets  of  Rome.  It  has  been 
argued  that  the  superscription  pifa,  which  occurs  in  the 
autograph  of  The  Messiah,  implies  that  the  Pastoral 
Symphony  is  founded  upon  one  of  these  shepherd 
melodies.  More  probably  it  is  only  an  imitation  of  the 
traditional  style,  like  Corelli's  famous  Christmas  concerto 
or  the  lovely  pastoral  air  in  Scarlatti's  Christmas  oratorio, 
which  is  quoted  by  Mr.  Dent  in  his  life  of  the  composer. 
Still,  it  would  be  pleasant  to  think  that  Handel  had 
heard  the  pifferari,  and  had  listened  to  the  wild  music 
that  a  hundred  years  later  made  so  profound  an  im- 
pression upon  the  j^outhful  Berlioz. 

Whether  Handel  heard  the  pifferari  or  not,  he  was 
certainly  back  in  Rome  early  in  the  spring,  safely 
established  in  the  palace  of  his  friend  the  Marquis  di 
Ruspoli.  An  autograph  cantata  in  the  British  Museum  is 
dated  Rome,  3  March  1708,  and  in  April  he  composed  his 
first  oratorio,  La  Resurrezione,  which  was  soon  followed 
by  the  allegorical  cantata,  //  Trionfo  del  Tempo  e  del 
Disinganno.  Both  saw  the  light  in  the  palace  of  Cardinal 
Ottoboni.  It  was  during  a  rehearsal  of  the  latter  that 
the  famous  scene  occurred  in  which  Corelli  and  Handel 
played  such  characteristic  parts.  Corelli,  whose  technique 
appears  to  have  been  but  moderate, — witness  the  story 
which  Burney  tells,   on    the  authority  of  Corelli's   pupil 


Geminiani,  of  the  famous  violinist's  lamentable  fiasco  at  a 
concert  in  Naples, — was  struggling  with  a  difficult  passage 
in  the  overture,  when  the  impetuous  German  snatched  the 
violin  from  his  hands  and  played  it  himself  All  that  the 
gentle  Corelli  said  was :  "  But,  my  dear  Saxon,  this  music 
is  in  the  French  style,  of  which  I  have  no  experience."  The 
matter  was  settled  by  Handel's  writing  a  fresh  symphony 
in  a  less  exacting  style.  Handel  left  Rome  for  Naples 
early  in  the  summer.  He  was  in  Naples  by  the  begin- 
ning of  July,  as  we  learn  from  the  date  upon  the 
autograph  of  his  trio,  "  Se  tu  non  lasci  amore."  The 
tradition  that  he  was  accompanied  upon  his  journey  by 
Alessandro  Scarlatti  has  no  foundation  in  fact,  since 
the  latter  was  in  Rome  in  October,  and  did  not  reach 
Naples  until  the  end  of  the  year.^ 

Naples  was  a  whirlpool  of  political  conflict  when 
Handel  arrived  there.  For  some  years  the  struggles 
for  the  Spanish  Succession  had  disturbed  its  tranquillity. 
The  Archduke  Charles  of  Austria  had  been  proclaimed 
King  of  Spain  in  1705,  and  in  1707  the  Austrian  troops 
had  occupied  Naples.  When  Handel  reached  Naples 
in  July  1708  the  post  of  viceroy  had  just  been  given  to 
Cardinal  Grimani,  a  Venetian,  whose  government  was 
little  appreciated  by  the  jealous  Neapolitans.  The  city 
swarmed  with  Austrian  soldiers,  discontented  for  lack 
of  pay,  and  on  the  look-out  for  anything  that  they  could 
pick  up.  Street  disturbances  were  frequent,  and  blood 
flowed  freely.  Nevertheless,  in  the  palaces  of  the 
nobility  life  went  on  much  as  usual.  There  was  no 
lack  of  festivity,  and  Handel  and  his  music  were  as 
welcome  here  as  they  had  been  in  Rome.  According  to 
Mainwaring  "he   had   a   palazzo  at  command,  and   was 

^  Dent,  Alessandro  Scarlatti, 


provided  with  table,  coach,  and  all  other  accom- 
modations. .  .  .  He  received  invitations  from  most  of 
the  principal  persons  who  lived  within  reach  of  the 
capital,  and  lucky  was  he  esteemed  who  could  engage 
him  soonest  and  detain  him  longest."  Mr.  Dent  quotes 
from  Conforto,  a  Neapolitan  diarist  of  the  early  eighteenth 
century,  a  description  of  a  musical  party  of  the  period, 
which  gives  a  good  idea  of  the  kind  of  entertainment  in 
which  Handel  must  often  have  taken  part :  "  Among 
other  things,  he  (an  extravagant  nobleman)  held  at  his 
house  a  most  lively  assembly  with  the  choicest  music, 
consisting  of  ten  instruments  and  four  of  the  best  voices 
of  this  city,  directed  by  the  Maestro  di  Cappella, 
Alessandro  Scarlatti ;  and  to  the  large  crowd  of  titled 
persons  that  attended  he  caused  to  be  offered  con- 
tinuously an  unspeakable  quantity  of  meats  and  drinks 
of  all  kinds,  with  various  fruits,  both  fresh  and  candied, 
as  he  did  also  for  the  large  number  of  servants  in  attend- 
ance on  them.  His  palace  was  all  most  nobly  decorated, 
and  all  lit  with  wax  torches  as  far  as  the  courtyard ;  the 
sideboard  consisted  of  two  long  tables  of  silver  fairly 
and  symmetrically  disposed ;  and  there  was  visible  in 
the  distance  a  most  beautiful  fountain,  also  of  silver, 
which  for  seven  continuous  hours  spouted  perfumed 
water,  about  which  fluttered  a  large  number  of  live  birds. 
There  was  also  a  pavilion  of  crimson  damask,  under 
which  were  fourteen  superb  trionfi  of  fruit,  both  fresh 
and  candied,  as  well  as  other  curious  inventions.  The 
which  entertainment  lasted  some  time  after  midnight, 
the  ladies  and  gentlemen,  according  to  their  usual  habit, 
after  having  filled  their  bellies  and  their  bosoms  with 
sweetmeats,  and  having  had  every  pleasure  of  sight, 
taste,  and  hearing,  not  failing  to  scoff  and  make  a  mock 


of  the  solemn  folly  of  the  last  new  marquis."  There  was 
a  branch  of  the  Arcadian  Academy  at  Naples,  which 
greeted  Handel  with  acclamation,  and  it  is  almost  cer- 
tain that  he  composed  the  pastoral  cantata,  Act,  Galatea 
e  Polifenw,  a  work  which  has  nothing  save  name  in 
common  with  the  better  known  Acis  and  Galatea,  for 
one  of  the  Academical  gatherings.  Society  at  Naples 
was  more  cosmopolitan  than  in  Rome.  Mainwaring 
says  that  Handel's  chief  patroness  was  a  Spanish  Princess, 
and  it  was  no  doubt  for  her  that  he  wrote  his  one 
extant  Spanish  song  with  guitar  accompaniment.  For 
another  friend  he  wrote  a  set  of  little  French  chansons, 
to  say  nothing  of  the  numerous  cantatas  that  flowed 
like  water  from  his  pen  during  the  whole  of  his  sojourn 
in  Italy.  But  the  most  influential  friend  that  Handel 
made  in  Naples  was  Cardinal  Vincenzo  Grimani,  the 
Viceroy,  who  seems  to  have  taken  the  composer  under 
his  special  protection,  and  evidently  smoothed  the  way 
for  his  return  to  Venice  and  for  the  production  of 
Agrippina.  Grimani  was  a  Venetian,  and  his  family 
owned  the  Teatro  di  San  Giovanni  Grisostomo,  so  that 
his  influence  threw  open  all  doors  to  Handel,  that  had 
been  closed  before  owing  to  the  prevailing  prejudice 
against  foreigners.  His  amiability  carried  him  still 
further.  In  his  leisure  moments  he  trifled  not  un- 
successfully with  the  muse,  and  he  paid  Handel  the 
compliment  of  writing  for  him  the  libretto  of  Agrippina} 
How   long    Handel    stayed    in    Naples   it   is    impossible 

^  A  note  in  Bonlini's  Glorie  della  Poesia  has  been  strangely  misinterpreted 
by  Chrysander.  Referring  to  Agrippina  the  author  observes :  "  Questo 
drama,  come  pure  PElmiro,  Re  di  Corinto  e  POrazio,  rappresentate  piu  di 
venti  anno  sono  su  I'istesso  teatro,  vantano  comune  I'origine  da  una  Fonte 
sublime."     (This  drama,  as  also  Elmiro,  Re  di  Corinto  and  Orazio,  per- 


to  say,  but  he  must  have  been  back  in  Rome  some  time 
in  the  spring  of  1709,  since  he  undoubtedly  made 
Steffani's  acquaintance  during  his  stay  in  Italy,  and 
Steffani,  who  had  been  sent  to  the  papal  court  on  a 
diplomatic  mission  by  the  Elector  Palatine,  was  only  in 
Italy  from  October  1708  to  June  1709.^  Steffani  was 
something  very  much  more  than  a  mere  musician, 
indeed  in  some  ways  he  was  one  of  the  most  remark- 
able men  of  his  time.  He  started  life  as  a  chorister  in 
Venice,  and  rose  by  his  own  exertions  to  be  one  of  the 
leading  diplomatists  of  Europe.  He  had  been  Kapell- 
meister at  Hanover  since  1685,  and  was  now  on  the 
look-out  for  a  promising  successor.  He  must  have 
known  Handel  well  by  reputation,  since  his  former  pupil 
Sophia  Charlotte,  now  Queen  of  Prussia,  was  one  of  the 
young  composer's  earliest  patronesses.  He  probably 
met  Handel  beneath  the  hospitable  roof  of  Cardinal 
Ottoboni,  and  seized  the  opportunity  of  suggesting  that 
Handel  should  step  into  his  shoes  at  Hanover.  Handel 
jumped  at  the  offer,  and  promised  to  make  his  way  to 
Hanover  directly  he  left  Italy. 

It  was  probably  in  the  autumn  of  1709  that  Handel 
said  good-bye  to  Rome,  and  turned  his  steps  northward. 
It  is  not  known  by  what  route  he  travelled,  but  we  may 
consider  it  at  least  probable  that  he  went  via  Florence,  in 

formed  more  than  twenty  years  before  at  the  same  theatre,  boast  a  common 
origin  from  a  sublime  Fount. ) 

The  "sublime  Fount"  is,  of  course,  Cardinal  Grimani,  who  wrote  the 
libretti  of  Elmiro,  Re  di  Corinto  and  Orazio,  produced  respectively  at  the 
Teatro  San  Giovanni  Grisostomo  in  1687  and  1688,  as  well  as  that  of 
Agrippina,  but  Chrysander  in  the  most  fantastic  manner  tried  to  twist  out 
of  the  words  a  reference  to  Florence,  the  cradle  of  opera,  in  order  to  justify 
his  view  of  the  chronology  of  Handel's  Italian  travels. 

1  Woker,  "  Aus  den  Papieren  des  Kurpfalzischen  Ministers  Agostino 
Steffani."     {Vereinsschrift  der  Gorres-Geselbchaft,  1885.) 


order  to  say  good-bye  to  his  friends  at  the  Medici  court. 
If  so,  he  found  them  in  sad  trouble.  The  G^-an  Principe 
Ferdinand  had  been  for  some  time  in  faiHng  health.  His 
constitution  was  undermined  by  youthful  excesses,  and 
in  the  previous  year  he  had  been  brought  almost  to 
death's  door  by  the  ministrations  of  an  English  physician 
from  the  fleet  at  Leghorn,  who  had  subjected  him  to  a 
treatment  more  drastic  than  his  constitution  could  stand.^ 

In  August  1709  he  had  gone  as  usual  to  pass  the 
autumn  at  Pratolino,  and  had  been  struck  down  on  the 
1st  of  September  by  a  series  of  epileptic  fits.  For  some 
time  his  life  was  in  danger.^  Prayers  were  offered  up 
in  all  the  Florentine  churches,  and  the  anxiety  in  the 
city  was  great.^  By  the  end  of  the  month,  however, 
Ferdinand  seemed  to  be  well  on  the  way  to  recovery, 
and  a  Te  Deuin  of  thanksgiving,  "  with  solemn  and 
exquisite  music  and  rich  symphonies,  composed  by  the 
first  musicians  of  Florence  and  other  foreign  musicians,"* 
was  sung  in  the  Church  of  the  Annunziata. 

If  Handel  stayed  in  Florence  on  his  way  to  Venice, 
it  is  quite  possible  that  he  was  one  of  the  foreign 
musicians  who  helped  to  compose  the  Te  Deiivi,  especi- 
ally as  his  old  patron  Gian  Gastone  was  in  Florence  at 
the  time,  and  was  actually  present  at  the  thanksgiving 
service.''  But  we  really  know  next  to  nothing  of  his 
movements  at  this  period. 

^  Galluzzi,   Istoria  del  Granducato  di  Toscaua,  Tom.  iv.  Libro  8. 

^  Seltimanni,  Diario,  1532-1737.     (Archivio  di  Stato,  Florence. ) 

^  Portinari,  Diario,  1700-20.     (Biblioteca  Marucelliana,  Florence). 

*  Settimanni,  Diario. 

^  Mr.  P.  Robinson,  in  his  Handel  and  his  Orbit,  has  propounded  a  theory 
that  in  the  spring  or  summer  of  1709  Handel  visited  the  shores  of  the  lake  of 
Como,  stayed  with  friends  at  Urio  and  Erba,  two  villages  in  the  neighbour- 
hood, and  there  composed  the  Te  Deuin  and  Magnificat,  hitherto  ascribed 


In  due  course  Handel  arrived  at  Venice,  and  the 
credentials  that  he  brought  from  Cardinal  Grimani  made 
the  production  of  Agrippina  at  the  Teatro  di  San  Giovanni 
Grisostomo  an  easy  matter.  There  is  an  apparent  dis- 
crepancy between  the  various  records  of  its  production. 
The  libretto  is  dated  1709,  and  Allacci,  followed  by  Wiel, 
gives  1709  as  the  date  of  production.  Bonlini,  on  the 
other  hand,  followed  by  Ademollo,  says  17 10.  The 
ambiguity  arises  from  the  fact  that  Agrippina  was  pro- 
duced in  what  was  called  the  Carnival  season  of  17 10,  and 
in  Bonlini's  catalogue  all  the  operas  produced  during 
that  season  are  grouped  together  under  the  date  1710. 
But  the  Carnival  season  actually  began  on  December 
26th,  and  as  Agrippina  comes  first  in  Bonlini's  list  of  the 
Carnival  operas  we  may  take  it  for  granted  that  it  was 
chosen  to  open  the  season.  It  may  therefore  be  taken  as 
a  settled  fact  that  Agrippina  was  produced  on  the  26th  of 
December  1709.  The  scene  must  have  been  brilliance 
and  gaiety  itself  The  opening  of  the  Carnival  was  the 
great  day  of  the  year  in  Venice.  The  city  was  crowded 
with  strangers  from  every  country  in  Europe,  and  the 
theatres  were  crammed  from  floor  to  ceiling.  The  Teatro 
di  San  Giovanni  Grisostomo  was  one  of  the  handsomest 

respectively  to  obscure  contemporary  composers  named  Urio  and  Erba,  of 
which  he  made  extensive  use  in  later  works.  Mr.  Robinson's  singularly 
cogent  and  luminous  reasoning  may  be  said  to  have  established  the  Handelian 
authorship  of  both  works,  though  no  actual  evidence  is  forthcoming  as  to  the 
date  and  place  of  their  composition.  It  is  quite  possible  that  Handel  left 
Rome  with  Steffani  at  the  end  of  April  1709,  and  travelled  with  him  via 
Florence  to  Venice,  where  he  arrived  on  the  13th  of  May  (Woker,  Aus  den 
Papieren  Agostino  Steffanis).  Stefifani  stayed  for  a  few  days  at  the  palace  of 
the  Elector  of  Hanover,  and  then  returned  to  Diisseldorf.  Handel  may  have 
accompanied  Steffani  to  Venice,  which  would  give  some  colour  to  Mainwaring's 
story  of  their  having  met  there,  and  then  gone  to  stay  with  his  friends  near 



in  Venice.  It  had  been  built  about  thirty  years  before,  in 
the  richest  and  most  luxurious  taste  of  the  barocco  period. 
Its  decorations  were  getting  a  little  dingy,  but  at  night, 
when  thronged  with  a  brilliant  audience,  and  illumin- 
ated by  the  hundreds  of  wax  tapers  which  the  ladies 
brought  with  them  to  enhance  their  charms,  it  still 
contrived  to  make  a  brave  show.  The  boxes  were 
occupied  by  richly  bejewelled  ladies  with  their  attendant 
cavaliers,  for  it  was  the  fashion  just  then  in  Venice  for  a 
woman  when  she  went  to  the  opera  to  wear  all  the  jewel- 
lery she  could  lay  her  hands  upon.  The  pit  and  gallery 
were  densely  packed  with  gondoliers,  who  were  admitted 
gratis,  and  enlivened  the  performance  with  sympathetic 
cries  of  delight  and  personal  remarks  of  a  remarkably 
intimate  nature  addressed  to  the  singers.  Agrippina 
went,  in  the  expressive  Italian  phrase,  to  the  stars.  The 
audience  waxed  tumultuous  in  their  enthusiasm  as  the 
evening  wore  on.  Cries  of  "  Long  live  the  Saxon  1 "  rent 
the  air,  while  the  gondoliers  in  the  gallery  called  down 
benedictions  on  every  singer  in  turn,  in  such  phrases  as 
"  Blessed  be  the  father  that  begat  thee,"  and  "  Blessed  be 
the  mother  that  bare  thee."  Meanwhile  the  young  nobles 
in  the  boxes  caught  the  infection.  Leaning  over  the 
balustrade  towards  the  stage  in  a  frenzy  of  artistic  rapture, 
they  cried,  "  Cara,  I  throw  myself  headlong  at  your  feet," 
and  similar  extravagances,  while  hastily  written  sonnets 
hurled  upon  the  stage  testified  to  the  inspiring  influence 
of  Handel's  music,  and  to  the  irresistible  charms  of  his 
singers.^  Handel  was  the  hero  of  the  hour,  and  every  calle 
in  Venice  rang  with  his  praises. 

Among  the  singers  who  took  part  in  the  opera  were 
Francesca  Durastanti  (Agrippina),  who   afterwards   sang 

'  Blainville,   Travels,  vol.  i.  chap.  Ix.wiii. 


under  Handel  in  London  ;  Boschi,  a  tremendous  bass  with 
a  compass  of  two  octaves  and  a  half,  who  had  sung  in 
Naples  in  Handel's  Act,  Galatea  e  Polifenio ;  and  his  wife, 
who  appeared  as  Ottone.  The  principal  castrato  in  the 
cast  was  Valeriano  Pellegrini,  who  took  the  part  of  Nero. 
Pellegrini,  or  Valeriano  as  he  was  generally  called,  was  a 
favourite  singer  of  Johann  Wilhelm,  the  Elector  Palatine, 
at  whose  court  he  was  generally  to  be  found.  Valeriano 
seems  to  have  scored  a  great  success  in  Agrippina. 
Giorgio  Stella,  another  of  the  Elector's  singers,  writing 
from  Venice  to  his  patron  on  the  loth  of  January  1710 
says :  "  I  meant  to  send  you  the  songs  from  the  opera 
that  is  being  played  at  the  San  Cassiano  theatre,  but  I 
could  not  get  hold  of  them.  I  am  not  sending  the  songs 
of  the  San  Giovanni  Grisostomo  opera,  as  I  suppose  that 
Valeriano  will  send  them.  He  is  much  applauded  there, 
as  he  is  a  great  artist."  ^  Agrippina  ran  uninterruptedly 
for  twenty-seven  nights,  a  thing  rare  in  the  annals  of 
Venetian  opera,  if  not  unprecedented,  and  soon  brought 
all  Venice  to  Handel's  feet.  His  friend,  the  Duke  of 
Manchester,  was  no  longer  in  Venice,  and  Prince  Ernest 
Augustus  had  also  gone  home,  but  there  were  plenty  of 
other  distinguished  foreigners  amusing  themselves  in  the 
city  of  the  lagoons. 

Among  them  was  one  of  the  leading  lights  of  the 
Hanoverian  court,  Baron  Kielmansegg,  the  Elector's 
Master  of  the  Horse,  and  the  husband  of  the  lady  who 
enjoyed  the  reputation  of  being  her  sovereign's  favourite 
mistress.  Kielmansegg  had  probably  heard  of  Handel 
from  Prince  Ernest  Augustus  and  Steffani,  and  he  was 
doubtless  flattered  to  find  that  a  fellow-German  was  the 

'  Einstein,  "  Italienische  Musiker  am  Hofe  der  Neuburger  Wittelsbacher." 
{Sammelbiinde  der  Internationalen  MusikgeseUschafl,  Jahrg.  ix.  p.  407.) 


hero  of  the  hour  in  Venetian  salons.  At  any  rate,  he 
made  friends  with  Handel,  and  probably  took  him  back 
to  Hanover  when  he  left  Italy  in  the  spring  of  17 10. 
In  Hanover  Handel  was  warmly  welcomed  by  Steffani, 
to  whose  kind  and  friendly  behaviour  he  afterwards 
paid  a  warm  tribute  in  a  conversation  with  Sir  John 
Hawkins,  which  the  latter  records  in  his  history :  "  When 
I  first  arrived  at  Hanover  I  was  a  young  man.  I  under- 
stood somewhat  of  music,  and — putting  forth  his  broad 
hands  and  extending  his  fingers — could  play  pretty  well 
on  the  organ.  He  received  me  with  great  kindness,  and 
took  an  early  opportunity  to  introduce  me  to  the  Princess 
Sophia  and  the  Elector's  son,  giving  them  to  understand 
that  I  was  what  he  was  pleased  to  call  a  virtuoso  in  music. 
He  obliged  me  with  instructions  for  my  conduct  and 
behaviour  during  my  residence  in  Hanover,  and  being 
called  from  the  city  to  attend  to  matters  of  a  public 
concern,  he  left  me  in  possession  of  that  favour  and 
patronage  which  himself  had  enjoyed  for  a  series  of 

Handel  received  the  appointment  of  Kapellmeister  on 
the  i6th  of  June  i/io,^  at  an  annual  salary  of  1000  thalers, 
but  his  stay  in  Hanover  was  a  brief  one.  It  seems  to 
have  been  an  understood  thing  that  he  was  to  finish  his 
Wanderjahre  before  settling  down  to  his  work,  and  he 
soon  obtained  leave  of  absence.  His  first  visit  was  to 
his  mother  at  Halle,  and  after  a  short  stay  there  he 
proceeded  to  Diisseldorf,  where  he  was  warmly  welcomed 
at  the  court  of  the  Elector  Palatine.  Johann  Wilhelm 
was  a  typical  German  princeling  of  the  eighteenth 
century.  The  Versailles  tradition  had  dazzled  him,  and 
his  starving  people   had   to   pay   for  the  follies  and  ex- 

^  Fischer,   Ope7-n  tind  Concerte  im  Hof theater  zu  Hatmover,  1899. 


travagances  of  his  court  at  Dusseldorf.  In  many  ways  he 
was  a  man  of  cultivation  and  refinement.  The  famous 
picture  gallery  of  Dusseldorf  bore  witness  to  the  correct- 
ness of  his  artistic  taste.  Music  was  another  of  his 
passions.  The  opera  at  Dusseldorf  was  one  of  the  most 
brilliant  in  Germany,  and  the  Elector's  private  band  was 
specially  admired  by  Blainville,  who  visited  Dusseldorf  in 
1705.  Even  that  seasoned  traveller  was  dumbfounded  at 
the  magnificence  of  the  Electoral  court.  "  Balls,  operas," 
he  wrote,  "  comedies,  concerts  of  music,  festivals,  all  are 
equally  splendid,  all  of  which  diversions  we  shared 
regularly  during  the  month  we  were  there."  About 
Johann  Wilhelm  himself  he  wrote  with  some  hesitation : 
"  The  Prince  is  of  a  middle  stature,  square-built,  has  a 
wide  large  mouth,  and  his  under-lip  very  thick  and  turned 
up.  He  is  about  forty-six  years  of  age,  very  courteous  and 
affable,  but  not  of  a  very  equal  temper,  being  so  easy  as 
to  be  the  dupe  of  the  first  rogue  that  has  the  courage  to 
put  upon  him,  especially  in  matters  that  he  imagines  may 
contribute  to  his  grandeur,  for  he  is  ambitious  beyond  all 
bounds."  A  neat  little  character-sketch  follows  of  the 
Electress  Anna  Maria,  who  was  a  daughter  of  Cosmo  III, 
the  Grand  Duke  of  Tuscany  :  "  She  is  tall  and  easy,  of  a 
genteel  shape,  very  fair  in  her  complexion  for  an  Italian 
lady,  has  black  eyes,  large  and  well  cut.  Her  hair  is  of 
the  same  colour ;  she  has  a  pretty  mouth,  only  her  lips 
are  a  little  too  thick.  Her  teeth  are  white  as  ivory,  but 
her  voice  is  a  little  too  masculine,  and  she  laughs  too  loud. 
She  is  about  thirty-seven,  and  has  never  had  any  children. 
They  say  here  that  she  is  extremely  jealous  of  her  husband, 
to  such  a  degree,  that  she  has  not  unfrequently  exposed 
herself  to  insults,  by  following  him  in  the  night  veiled  with 
a  mantle,  to  find  out  his   gallantries.     There  is  nothing 


astonishing  in  this,  considering  that  she  was  educated  in 
a  country  where  jealousy  prevails  to  madness,  and  all  the 
world  knows  that  the  Elector  is  no  enemy  to  gallantry."  ^ 
Johann  Wilhelm  and  his  wife  must  both  have  known  all 
about  Handel, — the  Elector  from  Steffani,  with  whom  he 
maintained  a  close  correspondence,  and  Anna  Maria  from 
her  brothers  Ferdinand  and  Gian  Gastone, — and  they 
welcomed  him  to  Diisseldorf  with  open  arms.  Johann 
Wilhelm  would  gladly  have  kept  Handel  at  his  court,  but 
that  being  impossible,  he  sped  him  on  his  way  to  England, 
presenting  him  on  his  departure  from  Diisseldorf  with  a 
service  of  plate.  Handel  journeyed  to  England  through 
Holland,  arriving  in  London  in  the  late  autumn  of  17 10. 

1  Blainville,  Travels  in  Holland,  Germany,  Italy,  etc.,  vol.  i.  chap.  viii. 


IT  would  be  interesting  to  know  what  were  Handel's 
first  impressions  of  London.  It  must  necessarily 
have  struck  him  as  very  different  from  anything  he  had 
yet  seen,  and  he  felt  no  doubt  that  he  had  left  equally 
far  behind  him  the  tranquil  respectability  of  Halle  and 
Hamburg  and  the  culture  and  vivacity  of  Rome  and 
Florence,  In  the  early  eighteenth  century  travel  and 
education  had  not  swept  away  racial  barriers.  Society 
was  not  yet  cosmopolitan.  Each  country  had  its  own 
prejudices  and  peculiarities,  and  London  in  those  days 
differed  as  much  from  Paris,  as  Paris  now  differs  from 
Constantinople.  London  in  1710  was  a  compact  city  of 
some  five  hundred  thousand  inhabitants,  about  the  present 
size  of  Birmingham.  On  the  west  it  reached  as  far  as 
Bond  Street,  on  the  north  to  Russell  Square,  and  on 
the  east  to  Whitechapel  Church.  Beyond  these  limits 
meadows  and  fields  extended  to  the  neighbouring  villages, 
such  as  Kensington,  Hampstead,  and  Ilford.  Within  the 
city  the  tumult,  dirt  and  disorder  were  such  as  we 
moderns  can  scarcely  realise.  There  were  laws  directing 
householders  to  keep  the  streets  clean  in  front  of  their 
houses,  but  no  one  paid  any  attention  to  them.  The 
streets  were   ankle-deep    in    mud  and   encumbered  with 


heaps  of  refuse,  which  it  seemed  to  be  no  one's  business 
to  clear  away.  In  the  middle  of  the  eighteenth  century- 
no  great  surprise  was  expressed  at  the  discovery  of  the 
body  of  a  murdered  infant,  after  several  days'  search,  on 
a  dunghill  in  Drury  Lane.  The  crowd  in  the  principal 
streets  was  overpowering,  but  though  contemporary 
complaints  of  the  noise  are  common,  I  suspect  that  in 
this  respect  our  modern  motor-buses  could  give  points 
to  the  waggons  of  Queen  Anne's  time.  At  night,  how- 
ever, we  have  unquestionably  the  advantage.  The  few- 
miserable  oil-lamps  that  illuminated  the  streets  in  those 
days  served  but  to  make  darkness  visible,  or  to  help 
the  dreaded  Mohocks  to  escape  the  interference  of  the 
watch.  As  to  the  Mohocks,  it  is  probable  that  the  horrors 
of  their  nocturnal  exploits  were  considerably  exaggerated, 
but  even  if  we  allow  a  margin  for  embroidery  they  remain 
sufficiently  serious.  We  may  doubt,  for  instance,  whether 
it  was  a  common  pastime  for  these  gentry  to  force  an 
unarmed  man  to  fight,  and  to  kill  him  in  the  middle  of 
the  street,  or  to  thrust  a  woman  into  a  barrel  and  roll 
her  down  Ludgate  Hill,  though  both  feats  are  recorded 
as  being  favourite  Mohock  practices ;  but  the  issue  of  a 
proclamation  referring  to  "  the  great  and  unusual  Riots 
and  Barbarities,  which  have  lately  been  committed  in  the 
Night  time  in  the  open  Streets,"  proves  that  the  nocturnal 
dangers  of  London  were  far  from  being  merely  the 
figments  of  diseased  imagination.  But  the  truth  was 
that  public  opinion  was  only  just  being  aroused  to  the 
indecorum  of  this  kind  of  thing.  At  a  time  when  duels 
were  openly  fought  in  Lincoln's  Inn  Fields  or  in  the 
meadows  of  Bloomsbury,  the  appeal  to  force  struck  no  one 
as  an  offence  against  civilisation.  If  the  horrors  of  the 
Mohock  frolics  were  somewhat  exaggerated  by  Gay  and 


other  writers  of  the  time,  there  was  no  necessity  for 
embroidering  the  exploits  of  the  professional  thieves  who 
lurked  in  the  quieter  streets  for  unprotected  wayfarers. 
To  what  lengths  their  audacity  could  go,  Lady  Cowper's 
Diary  sets  forth  :  "  Friday  night  Mr.  Mickelwaite  was  set 
upon  by  nine  Footpads,  who  fired  at  his  Postilion  without 
bidding  him  stand  just  at  the  end  of  Bedford  Row,  in  the 
road  which  goes  there  from  Pancras  Church  to  Gray's  Inn 
Lane.  His  servants  and  he  fired  at  them  again,  and  the 
Pads  did  the  same,  till  all  the  Fire  was  spent,  and  then  he 
rode  through  them  to  the  Town,  to  call  for  Help,  it  being 
dark,  which  they  seeing  they  could  not  prevent,  ran  away. 
Near  that  Place,  under  the  dead  Wall  of  Gray's  Inn 
Garden,  a  Gentlewoman,  coming  Home  with  her  son 
about  half  an  hour  after  ten  of  Saturday  Night,  two  men 
met  them,  one  of  whom  struck  the  Lan thorn  out  of  her 
Son's  Hand,  and  ran  away  with  his  Hat  and  Wig.  She 
cried  out '  Thieves  ! '  and  they  shot  her  immediately  through 
the  Head,  and  are  not  yet  discovered."  ^  Nearly  half  a 
century  later  the  streets  were  still  dangerous.  Horace 
Walpole  wrote  in  1750 :  "  I  was  sitting  in  my  own  dining- 
room  [in  Arlington  Street]  on  Sunday  night ;  the  clock 
had  not  struck  eleven,  when  I  heard  a  loud  cry  of '  Stop 
thief!'  A  highwayman  had  attacked  a  post-chaise  in 
Piccadilly  within  fifty  yards  of  this  house ;  the  fellow  was 
pursued,  rode  over  the  watchman,  almost  killed  him,  and 
escaped."  On  the  other  hand,  in  certain  social  matters, 
such  as  the  twopenny  post  and  the  "  Flying  Coaches,"  the 
England  of  Queen  Anne's  time  set  an  excellent  example 
to  foreign  countries.  The  growth  of  club  and  coffee-house 
life,  which  was  a  feature  of  this  period,  also  tended  to 
soothe  the  ferocious  manners  of  the  day.     Theatres  were 

^  Diary  of  Lady  Coivper,  1 716. 


to  some  extent  under  a  cloud,  owing  largely  to  Queen 
Anne's  personal  disapproval  of  the  stage,  and  in  respect 
of  opera  Handel  found  London  just  as  far  behind  the 
humblest  German  or  Italian  capital  as  it  is  to-day — a 
more  complete  condemnation  cannot  be  conceived ! 

Until  a  few  years  before  Handel's  arrival  there  had 
been  no  opera  at  all  in  London.  In  1705,  however,  an 
attempt  was  made  to  acclimatise  in  England  the  form 
of  art  which  had  been  the  delight  of  Italy  for  a  hundred 
years.  Clayton's  Arsinoe  was  produced  at  Drury  Lane 
"after  the  Italian  manner,  all  sung."  The  opera  was 
given  in  English,  and  the  singers  were  all  English,  though 
at  the  first  performance,  according  to  the  advertisement, 
Signora  de  I'Epine  gave  "  several  entertainments  of 
singing  before  the  beginning  and  after  the  ending  of  the 
Opera."  Arsinoe  broke  the  ice,  and  London  soon  woke 
up  to  the  fact  that  the  new  form  of  entertainment  was 
worth  cultivating.  Marcantonio  Bononcini's  Camilla,  also 
given  in  English,  was  the  next  success.  It  was  produced 
in  1706,  and  in  the  same  year  Sir  John  Vanbrugh  opened 
his  new  Queen's  Theatre  in  the  Haymarket  ("  By  Beauty 
founded,  and  by  Wit  designed,"  as  the  prologue  gracefully 
phrased  it,  in  compliment  to  Lady  Sutherland,  who  laid 
the  foundation  stone)  with  Giacomo  Greber's  Loves  of 
Ergasto,  an  Italian  opera  Englished  by  P.  A.  Motteux. 
Ergasto  was  a  failure,  and  was  followed  by  Vanbrugh's 
Confederacy.  The  new  theatre,  however,  was  too  large 
for  comedy,  and  Vanbrugh  determined  to  persevere  with 
opera.  He  tried  to  bring  Bononcini  to  England,  and  his 
friend  and  patron,  the  Duke  of  Manchester,  whose  position 
as  Ambassador  Extraordinary  at  Venice  placed  him  at  the 
very  heart  of  the  operatic  world,  exhausted  all  the  arts 
of  diplomacy  in  his  endeavours  to  win  from  the  court  of 


Vienna   permission    for    the    popular   composer   to   visit 
London.^     Failing  Bononcini  himself,  the   English  dilet- 
tanti had   to   content    themselves    with    his    music,  and 
Camilla   was   revived    in     1707.     Meanwhile    opera   was 
becoming  the  fashion,  though  the  absurd  plan  of  giving 
the  words,  Hamburg  fashion,  partly  in  English  and  partly 
in    Italian  was  still  followed.     Writing  early  in    1708  to 
the  Duke   of  Manchester,  who  was  quite  as  greedy  for 
operatic  as  for  political  news,  Vanbrugh  declares  that  "  the 
town  cries  out  for  a  new  man  and  woman  of  the  first  rate 
to  be  got  against  next  winter  from  Italy."     Manchester, 
as  usual,  was  Vanbrugh's  good  angel.     He  discovered  the 
desiderated   "  new    man,"  and    brought    him    in    triumph 
to   England  in    the   handsome   person    of  Nicolini,  who 
appeared   in   the   autumn   of   1708   in   Scarlatti's  Pirro  e 
Demetrio,  and  took  London  by  storm.     He  was  mutatis 
mutandis  the  Caruso  of  the  hour,  and   his   doings  were 
catalogued  by  journalists  with  respectful  awe.     He  was  as 
good  an  actor  as  he  was  a  singer,  and  even  Steele,  who 
from  his  position   in  the   theatrical  world  had  excellent 
reasons  for  grudging  opera  its  popularity,  did  him   full 
justice  in  this  respect.     His  famous  fight  with  the  lion  in 
Hydaspes  furnished  the  Spectator  and  the  Tatler  with  an 
admirable  target  for  the  arrows  of  their  satire.     Hitherto 
all  the  operatic  performances  in  London  had  been  either 
English  or  bilingual,  but  in   17 10  the  town,  as  Addison 
observed,  tired  of  understanding  but  half  of  the  entertain- 
ment, determined  for  the  future  to  understand  none  of  it, 
and  Almahide  was  performed  in   Italian  alone,  followed 
by  Bononcini's  Eteaixo,  also  given  without  any  admixture 
of  English.     London  was  thus  ripe  for  Handel.     Addison 
and  Steele  had  in  vain  exhausted  their  powers  of  ridicule. 

^  Duke  of  Manchester,  Court  and  Society. 


Italian  opera  was  firmly  established  in  the  good  graces  of 
society.  The  new  composer,  fresh  from  his  triumphs  in 
Italy,  was  received  with  open  arms,  and  speedily  received 
a  commission  from  Aaron  Hill  to  compose  an  opera  for 
the  Queen's  Theatre  in  the  Haymarket,  whither  the  Drury 
Lane  operatic  company  had  migrated  in  1708.  Rinaldo 
was  written  in  a  fortnight  to  a  libretto  by  Giacomo  Rossi, 
who  complained  that  he  could  not  turn  his  verses  out 
quickly  enough  to  keep  pace  with  the  fervid  flow  of 
Handel's  inspiration.  Rinaldo  was  produced  with  great 
success  on  the  24th  of  February  171 1,  and  was  performed 
fifteen  times  before  the  close  of  the  season,  which  came  to 
an  end  on  the  2nd  of  June.  It  is  incorrect  to  say,  as 
many  of  Handel's  biographers  have  done,  that  Rinaldo 
was  performed  fifteen  times  without  interruption.  On  the 
contrary,  its  run  was  broken  by  revivals,  given  "  at  the 
desire  of  several  ladies  of  quality,"  of  Hydaspes,  Almahide, 
Pirro  e  Demetrio,  and  Clotilda,  the  attractions  of  the 
last-named  being  enhanced  by  a  "Water-scene"  which, 
according  to  the  advertisements,  "  by  reason  of  the  Hot 
Weather,"  played  for  the  greater  part  of  the  evening. 
Rinaldo  itself  underwent  a  certain  amount  of  modifica- 
tion. After  it  had  run  for  a  month,  some  dances  were 
introduced  by  M.  du  Breil  and  Mademoiselle  la  Feve, 
"just  arrived  from  Bruxelles." 

The  success  of  Rinaldo  alarmed  the  advocates  of 
English  opera,  of  whom  the  spokesmen  were  Addison 
and  Steele.  Steele,  who  was  a  patentee  of  Drury  Lane 
and  the  owner  of  a  concert-room  in  York  Buildings,  saw 
his  audiences  drifting  away  to  the  Haymarket.  Addison 
was  still  smarting  from  the  failure  of  his  English  opera 
Rosamond,  which,  set  to  music  by  Clayton,  had  achieved 
a   run   of  three   nights    a    few   years    before.     The   two 


essayists  joined  forces  for  the  purpose  of  crushing  Rinaldo, 
and  the  Spectator  and  Tatlej'  did  all  that  they  could  to 
render  it  absurd  and  odious  in  the  eyes  of  their  readers. 
One  of  the  most  famous  of  the  Spectator's  attacks  upon 
Rinaldo  relates  to  the  sparrows  that  were  let  loose  in  the 
theatre  during  the  performance  of  the  air  "  Augelletti  che 
cantate."  For  the  sufferings  of  the  unfortunate  birds 
themselves  the  distinguished  essayist  manifested  little 
enough  sympathy,  though,  as  he  said,  "  instead  of  perching 
on  the  Trees  and  performing  their  parts,  these  young 
actors  either  get  into  the  Galleries  or  put  out  the  Candles," 
but  he  professed  great  anxiety  lest  the  poor  little 
creatures  should  remain  in  the  theatre  and  become  a 
general  nuisance.  "  It  is  feared,"  he  observes,  "  that  in 
other  plays  they  may  make  their  Entrance  in  very  wrong 
and  improper  Scenes,  so  as  to  be  seen  flying  in  a  Lady's 
Bed-Chamber,  or  perching  upon  a  King's  Throne,  besides 
the  Inconveniences  which  the  Heads  of  the  Audience  may 
sometimes  suffer  from  them."  The  dragons  in  Rinaldo 
and  the  mise-en-scene  generally  speaking,  which  seems  to 
have  been  unusually  elaborate,  came  in  for  their  share  of 
ridicule,  and  it  is  worth  noting  that  it  was  the  Spectator 
which  started  the  accusation  against  Handel,  often  after- 
wards repeated,  of  revelling  in  noise  for  its  own  sake.  At 
the  close  of  one  of  the  Spectator  essays  ridiculing  Rinaldo 
there  is  a  burlesque  advertisement  of  a  supposed  new 
opera,  The  Cruelty  of  Atrcjts,  in  which  "the  scene  wherein 
Thyestes  eats  his  own  Children  is  to  be  performed  by  the 
famous  M.  Psalmanazar,  lately  arrived  from  Formosa,  the 
whole  supper  being  set  to  Kettle-drums."  But  Rinaldo 
rose  superior  to  Addison's  raillery.  It  was  revived  in 
17 1 2,  with  Nicolini  still  in  the  principal  part,  and  was 
given  again  in   17 15  and   17 17.     Even  so  late  as  173 1  it 


had  not  exhausted  its  popularity.  Nor  were  its  triumphs 
confined  to  England.  It  was  performed  at  Hamburg 
with  great  success  in   171 5,  and  at  Naples  in  17 17. 

During  his  stay  in  London,  Handel's  duties  at  the 
opera-house  seemed  to  have  monopolised  him  almost 
entirely.  He  gave  no  concerts,  but  it  is  highly  probable 
that  he  played  at  the  houses  of  some  of  the  great  dilettanti 
of  the  day.  We  have  a  glimpse  of  him  at  Sir  John 
Stanley's,  who  was  uncle  to  little  Mary  Granville,  after- 
wards the  well-known  Mrs.  Delany.  The  latter  writes  in 
her  autobiography:  "In  the  year  1710  I  first  saw  Mr. 
Handel,  who  was  introduced  to  my  uncle  Stanley  by  Mr. 
Heidegger.  We  had  no  better  instrument  in  the  house 
than  a  little  spinet  of  mine,  on  which  that  great  musician 
performed  wonders."  The  friendship  so  begun  lasted 
all  Handel's  lifetime.  In  later  years  Handel  was  a 
frequent  visitor  at  Mrs.  Delany's  house,  and  would  play 
to  her  for  hours  at  a  time.  Musical  life  in  London  was 
of  course  very  different  from  what  it  is  now,  but  still 
concerts  were  given  from  time  to  time,  and  it  is  a  little 
curious  that  Handel  did  not  think  it  worth  while  to 
give  one  himself,  especially  as  personal  popularity  was 
evidently  much  harder  to  win  in  England  than  in  Italy. 
The  success  of  Agrippitta  in  Venice  raised  the  composer 
at  once  to  the  rank  of  a  hero,  but  in  London,  even  after 
the  triumph  of  Rijtaldo,  Handel  often  found  life  something 
of  a  struggle.  The  following  advertisement  from  the 
Daily  Courant  gives  a  specimen  of  the  sort  of  concert 
that  was  popular  in  London  at  the  time  :  "  For  the  benefit 
of  Signiora  Lody  on  Tuesday,  24th  April  171 1,  at  Hume's 
Dancing  School  in  Frith  Street,  Soho,  will  be  a  Consort 
of  Vocal  and  Instrumental  Musick ;  a  new  Cantata  with 
a   solo   on    the    Harpsichord,   performed   by    Mr.   Babell 


Junior,  with  a  Variety  of  Concertos  and  other  pieces  com- 
posed and  performed  by  Mr,  Corbett  and  other  of  the 
best  Masters,  beginning  at  7  o'clock."  Handel  himself 
may  not  impossibly  have  attended  this  very  concert,  since 
Rinaldo  was  that  week  performed  on  Wednesday  the 
25th  instead  of  the  usual  Tuesday, — Tuesday  and  Saturday 
were  the  ordinary  opera  nights, — and  if  so  it  was  in  all 
likelihood  the  playing  of  Babell,  who  was  the  most  noted 
performer  upon  the  harpsichord  in  London,  that  drew 
from  him  the  observation  that  when  he  first  went  to 
London  there  were  very  few  good  composers  there  but 
plenty  of  good  players. 

But  the  most  famous  concerts  in  London  at  that  time 
were  the  weekly  reunions  of  Thomas  Britton,  the  small- 
coal  man,  which  took  place  every  Thursday  in  a  loft  "  not 
much  higher  than  a  Canary  Pipe,  with  a  window  but  very 
little  bigger  than  the  Bunghole  of  a  Cask,"  ^  over  his  coal- 
cellar  in  Clerkenwell.  Britton's  career  was  a  remarkable 
one,  especially  at  a  time  when  music  was  a  slave  to  the 
odious  and  degrading  system  of  patronage,  and  most 
musicians  lived  in  a  slough  of  complacent  flunkeydom. 
Britton  plied  his  sooty  trade  by  day,  hawking  coal  about 
the  streets  of  London.  In  the  evening,  washed,  clothed 
and  in  his  right  mind,  he  gathered  his  friends  about  him, 
and  discoursed  sweet  music,  being  himself  a  notable  per- 
former upon  the  viol  da  gamba.  Gradually  his  concerts 
became  famous.  The  leading  lights  of  musical  London, 
Dr.  Pepusch,  Banister  the  violinist,  John  Hughes  the 
author  of  The  Siege  of  Damascus,  who  was  a  musician  as 
well  as  a  poet,  and  many  others,  took  their  parts  in  sonatas 
and  concertos.  Britton  became  the  fashion.  Visitors  to 
London  were  taken  to  make  his  acquaintance  as  a  matter 

^  Ward,  Secret  History  of  Chibs,  1709. 


of  course.  Thoresby,  the  diarist,  records  a  visit,  when  he 
heard  "  a  noble  concert  of  music,  vocal  and  instrumental, 
the  best  in  town."  ^     Matthew  Prior  sang  of  him  : — 

"  Though  doom'd  to  small  coal,  yet  to  arts  allied ; 
Rich  without  wealth,  and  famous  without  pride." 

Duchesses  crawled  up  the  crazy  ladder  leading  to  his 
concert  room,  which  was  celebrated  by  the  doggerel  poet 
Ned  Ward,  a  near  neighbour  and  intimate  friend  of 
Britton's : — 

"  Upon  Thursdays  repair 
To  my  palace,  and  there 
Hobble  up  stair  by  stair ; 
But  I  pray  ye  take  care 
That  you  break  not  your  shin  by  a  stumble.^ 

Thither  Handel  often  repaired,  according  to  Hawkins, 
playing  both  harpsichord  and  organ,  and  directing  the 
performance,  to  the  delight  of  the  audience,  who,  as  Ward 
vivaciously  observed,  were  "  willing  to  take  a  hearty  Sweat 
that  they  might  have  the  Pleasure  of  hearing  many  notable 
Performances  in  the  charming  Science  of  Musick." 

Handel  left  London  for  Hanover  soon  after  the  con- 
clusion of  the  opera  season,  on  the  2nd  of  June  171 1.  On 
his  way  he  stopped  at  Dtisseldorf,  where  his  old  friend 
and  patron  the  Elector  Palatine  was  as  delighted  as  ever 
to  welcome  him.  How  long  Handel  stayed  at  Dusseldorf 
cannot  now  be  ascertained,  but  it  is  plain  that  he  must 
have  begun  to  be  a  little  anxious  as  to  what  the  Elector 
of  Hanover  would  think  of  his  prolonged  absence,  for  a 
couple  of  letters  from  the  Elector  Palatine,  dated  the  17th 
of  June,  have  recently  come  to  light,^  one  addressed  to  the 

^  Ralph  Thoresby,  Diary,  vol.  ii. 

^  Ward,  Secret  History  of  Clubs,  1709. 

^  Zeitschrift  der  Internationalen  Musik-Gesellschaft,  Bd.  viii.  p.  277. 


Elector  of  Hanover  and  the  other  to  the  old  Electress 
Sophia,  in  which  he  apologises  for  keeping  Handel  "a 
few  days,"  and  explains  that  he  is  only  doing  so  in  order 
to  show  him  some  instruments,  and  get  his  opinion  about 
them.  Presumably  the  apology  was  accepted,  and  Handel 
settled  down  to  his  quiet  life  at  Hanover  without  any 
uncomfortable  questions  being  asked  about  his  long 
holiday.  At  that  time  there  was  no  opera  at  Hanover, 
and  his  energies  were  confined  to  chamber  music.  He 
had  at  his  disposal  an  orchestra  of  eighteen  musicians, 
for  whom  he  probably  wrote  some  of  his  hautboy  con- 
certos. He  also  composed  a  set  of  thirteen  chamber 
duets,  some  German  songs  and  a  few  harpsichord  pieces.^ 
The  duets  were  written  for  the  Princess  Caroline,  wife  of 
Prince  George,  the  Elector's  son,  afterwards  George  II, 
They  show  the  influence  of  Steffani,  who  was  an  acknow- 
ledged master  of  the  genre.  Caroline  of  Ansbach  was 
one  of  Handel's  best  and  kindest  friends,  and  he  repaid 
her  regard  with  warm  gratitude  and  admiration.  It  is 
more  than  probable  that  they  met  as  children  at  Berlin, 
for,  when  Handel  visited  the  Prussian  court  as  a  juvenile 
prodigy  in  1696,  Caroline  was  actually  living  in  Berlin 
under  the  care  of  her  guardian,  the  Elector  Frederick, 
and  his  wife,  Sophia  Charlotte.  Caroline  imbibed  Sophia 
Charlotte's  artistic  tastes,  and  was  always  a  devoted 
patron  of  music.  She  seems  to  have  been  no  mean  per- 
former too.  Leibniz,  who  heard  her  sing  a  duet  with  the 
Hereditary  Princess  of  Cassel,  said  that  she  sang  very 
correctly  and  had  a  marvellous  voice,^  and  the  Archduke 
Charles,  who  used  to  play  her  accompaniments,  lost  his 
heart  so  completely  to  the  fair  musician  that,  but  for  her 

^  Fischer,  Ope^-n  tmd  Coitcerte  im  Hoftheater  zu  Hanttove}-, 
2  Correspondence,  vol.  iii.  p.  105. 


objections  to  the  Roman  Catholic  religion,  she  might  have 
been  Empress  of  Germany.^  The  records  of  this  period 
of  Handel's  career  are  sadly  meagre,  but  we  know  from 
a  letter  of  his  written  in  July  to  Andreas  Roner,  a 
German  musician  who  lived  in  London,  that  he  spent  some 
of  his  spare  time  in  working  at  English  ;  and  a  message  to 
John  Hughes,  with  a  request  for  a  poem  to  set  to  music, 
shows  that  he  retained  friendly  recollections  of  his  friends 
in  London.^  In  the  autumn  of  17 11  he  paid  a  visit  to  his 
relatives  at  Halle,  and  on  November  23  stood  godfather 
to  his  sister's  daughter,  Johanna  Frederica,  who  was 
nominated  as  his  residuary  legatee  in  the  will  of  1750. 
After  this  we  know  nothing  of  his  movements  until  a  year 
later,  when  he  obtained  leave  of  absence  from  the  Elector 
of  Hanover  on  condition  that  he  resumed  his  duties  within 
a  reasonable  time.  He  left  at  once  for  London,  where  he 
arrived  some  time  in  the  autumn  of  17 12. 

^  "  Briefe  der  Konigin  Sophie  Charlotte  von  Preussen."     {Publikationen 
aus  den  K.  Pretissischen  Staatsarchiven,  vol.  Ixxix.  p.  57-) 
^  Hughes,  Correspondence,  Dublin,  1773,  vol.  i.  p.  39. 



HANDEL    found    changes    in    the    musical    world 
of    London.      Since    his    departure    opera    had 
languished,  and  the  production  in  English  of  Galliard's 
Calypso  did  little  to  restore  the  falling  fortunes  of  the  art. 
Aaron    Hill   had    given    place    to  an    adventurer   named 
MacSwiney,  who  now  ruled  the  destinies  of  the  Queen's 
Theatre.     For  him  Handel  wrote  a  new  opera,  //  Pastor 
Fido,  to  a  libretto  by  Rossi,  inferior  in  every  way  to  that 
of  Rinaldo.     II  Pastor  Fido  was  produced  on  the  26th 
November  17 12,  but  in  spite  of  the  composer's  popularity 
it  won  little  success.     The  public    missed    Nicolini,  who 
had  left  England  in  the  summer,  and  the  singing  of  his 
successor,  Valeriano  Pellegrini,  who  had  sung  in  Handel's 
Agrippina  three  years  before,  did  not  make  amends  for 
the  absence  of  the  favourite.     //  Pastor  Fido  was  only 
given  six  times.     Far  greater  success  attended  Handel's 
Teseo,  written  to  a  libretto  by  Nicola  Haym,  which  was 
produced  on  January  loth,  171 3.     Its  triumphant  career 
was   hardly   checked    by   the   failure    and    flight   of  the 
egregious    MacSwiney,  who,  after   Teseo  had  been  given 
twice,  disappeared  from  the  scene,  leaving   his  bills   un- 
settled and  his  singers  unpaid.     The  latter  determined  to 



carry  on  the  season  as  best  they  could,  and  as  a  matter 
of  fact  it  endured  until  the  30th  May,  under  the  manage- 
ment of  the  famous  "  Swiss  Count,"  Heidegger.  Teseo 
was  played  twelve  times,  the  last  performance  being  a 
benefit  for  Handel,  probably  arranged  to  compensate  him 
for  MacSwiney's  non-fulfilment  of  his  liabilities.  At  this 
performance,  Handel  gave  between  the  acts  of  the  opera 
"  an  entertainment  for  the  harpsichord,"  the  forerunner  of 
many  similar  displays  of  virtuosity. 

Heidegger,  who  was  one  of  the  most  prominent  figures 
in  London  life  during  a  large  part  of  the  eighteenth  century, 
had  so  much  to  do  with  Handel  that  there  is  every  excuse 
for  lingering  a  moment  over  him  and  his  fortunes.     He 
was  a  native  of  Zurich,  and  appeared  in  London  about  the 
year   1708.      His  own   story  was  that  he  came  upon   a 
diplomatic  mission,  but   failing   in   his  errand  was  com- 
pelled to  enlist  in  the  Guards.     How  he  managed  to  win 
admittance  to  the  councils  of  the  Queen's  Theatre  is  not 
known,  but  in  1709  he  had  a  good  deal  to  do  with  the  pro- 
duction of  Thomy7'is,  and  from  that  time  forth  he  played 
a  leading  part  in  the  management  of  opera  in  London. 
His  engaging  manners  soon  established  him  in  the  favour 
of    the   aristocracy,    and   he   became   a    sort    of  arbiter 
elega^itiarum   in    the   world    of    art    and    fashion.       The 
"  Swiss  Count,"  as  he  was  always  called,  was  an  unusually 
ugly  man,  and  his  misshapen  features  furnished  the  wits 
of  his  time  with  an  inexhaustible  subject  for  mirth.     The 
taste  in  humour  of  the  eighteenth  century  was  somewhat 
primitive,  and  Heidegger,  whose  business  was  to  get  on 
in    life,  threw  self-respect   to  the  winds,  and  encouraged 
every  sort  of  joke  at  his  own  expense.     He  once  laid  a 
wager  with  Lord  Chesterfield  that,  within  a  given  time, 
his  lordship  would  not  be  able  to  produce  so  hideous  a 


face  in  all  London.  After  a  strict  search,  an  old  woman 
was  found,  who  at  first  sight  was  judged  uglier  even  than 
Heidegger.  The  "  Swiss  Count,"  however,  seized  her 
head-dress,  and  putting  it  on  himself  was  at  once 
acclaimed  the  winner.  Clever  as  he  was,  he  was  badly 
scored  off  on  another  occasion  by  the  facetious  Duke  of 
Montagu,  whose  taste  for  practical  joking  was  extensive 
and  peculiar.^  Montagu  invited  Heidegger  to  dinner,  and, 
in  concert  with  half  a  dozen  other  congenial  spirits,  made 
him  so  drunk  that  he  was  carried  unconscious  to  bed.  A 
cast  of  his  face  was  then  taken,  and  a  wax  mask  con- 
structed. At  the  next  masquerade  given  by  Heidegger  at 
the  opera-house  a  man  was  dressed  up  in  a  suit  of  his 
clothes,  disguised  in  the  mask,  and  smuggled  into  the 
orchestra.  Heidegger  was  got  out  of  the  way  under  some 
pretext,  and,  on  the  entrance  of  George  li  and  his  mistress, 
the  Countess  of  Yarmouth,  his  double  bade  the  musicians 
strike  up  the  well-known  Jacobite  tune,  "  Charlie  over  the 
water."  The  confusion  and  excitement  were  immense, 
but  the  King  took  the  joke  in  good  part  and,  when  the 
real  Heidegger  flew  back  in  consternation  and  was  con- 
fronted by  his  double,  laughed  more  than  any  one  at  the 
absurdity  of  the  situation.  Incidents  such  as  this  only 
served  to  increase  Heidegger's  popularity,  and  ere  long  he 
was  able  to  retire  to  his  house  at  Richmond  with  an  ample 
fortune.  "  I  was  born  a  Swiss,"  he  is  reported  to  have 
said  in  a  discussion  as  to  the  respective  merits  of  the 
several  European  nations,  "  and  came  to  England  without 

^  He  never  seems  to  have  outgrown  it.  In  1740  his  mother-in-law,  the 
old  Duchess  of  Marlborough,  wrote  of  him:  "All  his  talents  lie  in  things 
only  natural  in  boys  of  fifteen  years  old,  and  he  is  about  two-and-fifty ;  to 
get  people  into  his  garden  and  wet  them  with  squirts,  and  to  invite  people  to 
his  country  houses  and  put  things  into  their  beds  to  make  them  itch,  and 
twenty  such  pretty  fancies  like  these."     Private  Correspondence,  vol.  ii. 


a  farthing,  where  I  have  found  means  to  gain  five  thousand 
pounds  a  year,  and  to  spend  it.  Now  I  defy  the  most 
able  Englishman  to  go  to  Switzerland  and  either  to  gain 
that  income  or  to  spend  it  there." 

During  his  first  visit  to  London,  Handel  had  made 
many  friends,  who  now  contended  for  the  honour  of  enter- 
taining him.  His  first  visit  was  to  a  Mr.  Andrews,  of 
Barn-Elms  in  Surrey,  who  also  possessed  a  town  house 
where  Handel  had  a  suite  of  apartments.  Here  he  stayed 
some  months,  moving  to  his  friend  Lord  Burlington's 
palace  in  Piccadilly  before  the  end  of  the  year.  Handel's 
life  at  Burlington  House  has  been  well  described  by 
Hawkins :  "  Into  this  hospitable  mansion  was  Handel 
received,  and  left  at  liberty  to  follow  the  dictates  of  his 
genius  and  invention,  assisting  frequently  at  evening 
concerts,  in  which  his  own  music  made  the  most  consider- 
able part.  The  course  of  his  studies  during  three  years' 
residence  at  Burlington  House  was  very  regular  and 
uniform  ;  his  mornings  were  employed  in  study,  and  at 
dinner  he  sat  down  with  men  of  the  first  eminence  for 
genius  and  abilities  of  any  in  the  kingdom.  Here  he 
frequently  met  Pope,  Gay,  Dr.  Arbuthnot,  and  others  of 
that  class ;  the  latter  was  able  to  converse  with  him  on 
his  art,  but  Pope  understood  not,  neither  had  he  the  least 
ear  or  relish  for  music — and  he  was  honest  enough  to 
confess  it.  When  Handel  had  no  particular  engagements, 
he  frequently  went  in  the  afternoon  to  St.  Paul's  Church, 
where  Mr.  Greene,  though  he  was  not  then  organist,  was 
very  assiduous  in  his  civilities  to  him  ;  by  him  he  was 
introduced  to,  and  made  acquainted  with,  the  principal 
performers  in  the  choir.  The  truth  is,  that  Handel  was 
very  fond  of  the  St.  Paul's  organ,  built  by  Father  Smith, 
which  was   then    almost   a   new  instrument.     Brind  was 


then  the  organist,  and  no  very  celebrated  performer.  The 
tone  of  the  instrument  delighted  Handel,  and  a  little 
entreaty  was  at  any  time  sufficient  to  prevail  on  him  to 
touch  it ;  but  after  he  had  ascended  the  organ-loft  it  was 
with  reluctance  that  he  left  it,  and  he  has  been  known, 
after  evening  service,  to  play  to  an  audience  as  great  as 
ever  filled  the  choir.  After  his  performance  was  over,  it 
was  his  practice  to  adjourn  with  the  principal  persons 
of  the  choir  to  the  Queen's  Arms  Tavern  in  St.  Paul's 
Churchyard,  where  was  a  great  room,  with  a  harpsichord 
in  it,  and  oftentimes  an  evening  was  there  spent  in  music 
and  musical  conversation." 

Hawkins'  facts  are  doubtless  correct,  but  his  chronology 
seems  to  be  a  little  shaky.  The  nodes  coenaeque  deorum 
that  he  describes  must  belong  to  a  later  date.  In  171 2 
Lord  Burlington  was  only  seventeen  years  old — rather  an 
early  age  for  a  youth,  however  precocious,  to  be  entertain- 
ing a  circle  of  wits.  As  a  matter  of  fact,  his  acquaintance 
with  Gay  does  not  seem  to  have  begun  till  1715,  when  the 
poet  celebrated  his  young  patron  in  Trivia  :  ^ — 

"Yet  Burlington's  fair  Palace  still  remains; 
Beauty  within,  without  proportion  reigns. 
Beneath  his  Eye  declining  Art  revives, 
The  Wall  with  animated  Picture  lives  ; 
There  Handel  strikes  the  strings,  the  melting  strain 
Transports  the  Soul  and  thrills  through  every  vein." 

Burlington  does  not  appear  in  Pope's  correspondence 
until  17 18,  when  Pope  wrote  to  Martha  Blount:  "I  am 
to  pass  three  or  four  days  in  high  luxury,  with  some 
company,  at  my  Lord  Burlington's.  We  are  to  walk 
ride,  ramble,  dine,  drink,  and  lie  together.     His  gardens 

^  Trivia  -was   published  in  January    1716.      See   Gay's    Works,   Muses 
Library,  vol.  i.  p.  xxxvii. 


are  delightful,  his  music  ravishing."^  In  the  same  year 
Pope  established  himself  at  Chiswick  "  under  the  wing  of 
my  Lord  Burlington,"  with  whom  he  was  by  that  time  on 
intimate  terms,  if  we  may  judge  by  Gay's  Journey  to 
Exeter : — 

"While  you,  my  Lord,  bid  stately  piles  ascend 
And  in  your  Chiswick  bowers  enjoy  your  friend ; 
Where  Pope  unloads  the  bough  within  his  reach, 
The  purple  vine,  blue  plum,  and  blushing  peach." 

However,  it  is  likely  enough  that  Handel  was  staying 
in  Burlington  House  in  the  autumn  of  17 12.  He  may 
very  well  have  been  invited  thither  by  the  Dowager 
Countess,  who  was  a  great  patroness  of  music,  —  the 
English  version  of  Gasparini's  Antiochus,  which  was  pro- 
duced in  17 1 1,  was  dedicated  to  her, — and  the  fact  that 
Teseo  was  dedicated  to  Lord  Burlington  implies  some 
kind  of  connection  between  Handel  and  the  young 

Rinaldo  and  Teseo  gave  Handel  a  position  in  the 
musical  world  of  London  far  more  commanding  than 
that  of  any  native-born  composer,  and  there  is  nothing 
surprising  in  his  being  chosen  to  write  an  ode  in  celebra- 
tion of  Queen  Anne's  birthday,  or  to  compose  the  festival 
Te  Deum  and  Jubilate  which  were  sung  at  the  service 
commemorating  the  Peace  of  Utrecht.  It  is  possible, 
too,  that  in  the  selection  of  Handel  for  so  keenly  coveted 
a  position  we  may  trace  the  friendly  influence  of  Lady 
Burlington,  who  was  one  of  the  Queen's  Ladies  of  the 
Bed-Chamber.  The  Birthday  Ode  was  performed  on 
the  6th  of  February  17 13,  probably  in  the  Chapel  Royal 
St.  James's,  and  the  Utrecht  Te  Deum  and  Jubilate  at 
St.  Paul's  on  the  7th  of  July  following.     The  Queen  was 

^  Pope,  Works,  Elwin's  edition,  vol.  ix.  p.  264. 


not  well  enough  to  be  present  at  the  latter  service,  but 
she  heard  Handel's  music  later  at  St.  James's,  and  con- 
ferred upon  him  a  pension  of  i^200.  Meanwhile,  his 
duties  at  the  court  of  Hanover  summoned  him  in  vain. 
The  "  reasonable  time "  for  which  he  had  received  leave 
of  absence  had  long  since  expired,  yet  still  Rinaldo 
lingered  in  the  enchanted  gardens  of  Armida.  Not  only 
was  Handel  playing  truant  in  the  most  unwarrantable 
fashion,  but  he  was  spending  his  time  in  the  manner  of 
all  others  most  surely  calculated  to  displease  the  Elector  : 
accepting  favours  from  Queen  Anne,  who  lost  no  oppor- 
tunity of  showing  her  dislike  of  everything  connected 
with  Hanover,  and  celebrating  the  Peace  of  Utrecht, 
which  the  German  confederate  powers  viewed  with  the 
utmost  disapproval.  It  was  no  wonder,  therefore,  that 
when  George  I  succeeded  to  the  throne  of  England, 
on  the  sudden  death  of  Queen  Anne  in  August  1714, 
Handel  did  not  dare  to  present  himself  at  the  court  of 
St.  James's,  but  waited  quietly  in  the  security  of  Burlington 
House  to  see  what  turn  events  would  take.  It  was 
probably  about  this  time  that  he  wrote  Silla,  a  work 
much  slighter  in  scope  than  any  of  his  previous  operas 
which  may  have  been  designed  for  a  private  performance 
at  Burlington  House,  though  no  record  of  its  production 
exists.  The  confusion  which  had  reigned  at  the  opera- 
house  in  the  Haymarket  since  the  flight  of  MacSwiney 
probably  deterred  Handel  from  contributing  to  its  re- 
pertory, but  in  171 5  he  once  more  tempted  fortune  with 
Amadigi,  an  opera  conceived  upon  a  scale  at  least  as 
imposing  as  that  of  Rinaldo,  and  written  to  a  libretto 
by  Heidegger,  who  dedicated  it  to  Lord  Burlington  in 
terms  which  make  it  certain  that  the  music  was  composed 
by  Handel  at  Burlington   House.     Nicolini,  who  had  re- 


turned  to  England  in  1714,  appeared  as  the  hero,  and  the 
part  of  Oriana  was  sung  by  the  celebrated  Anastasia 
Robinson,  afterwards  Countess  of  Peterborough,  whose 
romantic  love-story  not  long  since  formed  the  foundation  of 
Mr.  George  Meredith's  novel,  Lord  Ormont  and  Jiis  Aininta. 

Amadigi  was  produced  on  the  25th  of  May,  so  late 
in  the  season  that  a  long  run  was  out  of  the  question. 
Its  success,  however,  was  beyond  dispute,  and  it  received 
the  compliment  of  parody  at  the  theatres  both  of  Drury 
Lane  and  Lincoln's  Inn  Fields.  The  scenery  was  so 
unusually  elaborate  that  spectators  were  not  allowed 
upon  the  stage,  as  had  been  customary,  and  a  special 
by-law  with  regard  to  encores  was  issued  by  the  manage- 
ment to  this  effect :  "  Whereas  by  the  frequent  calling 
for  the  songs  again,  the  operas  have  been  too  tedious ; 
therefore  the  singers  are  forbidden  to  sing  any  song  above 
once ;  and  it  is  hoped  nobody  will  call  for  'em,  or  take 
it  ill  when  not  obeyed." 

Meanwhile,  in  spite  of  all  that  his  friends  could  urge 
in  his  behalf,  Handel  was  still  an  exile  from  court.  King 
George, who  liked  going  to  the  opera,andeven  condescended 
to  act  as  godfather  to  the  infant  son  of  Mme.  Durastanti, 
heard  Amadigi  but  refused  to  pardon  the  composer.  But 
a  means  of  reconciliation  was  devised  by  Lord  Burlington 
in  conjunction  with  Handel's  old  friend  Baron  Kielmansegg, 
who  was  now  the  King's  Master  of  the  Horse  and  a 
personage  of  great  consideration,  though  this  was  due 
less  perhaps  to  his  own  merits  than  to  the  fact  that  his 
wife,  "  the  Elephant,"  as  she  was  nicknamed,  shared  with 
Mile.  Schulenburg — "the  Maypole" — the  King's  most 
intimate  favour.^ 

^  It  is  now  the   fashion    to   regard    Baroness    Kiehnansegg  as   a   much 
maligned  person,  and  a  most  determined  attempt  to  whitewash  her  character 


The  river  Thames  was  then,  far  more  than  now,  one 
of  the  main  highways  of  London.  It  was  still  Spenser's 
"  silver  Thames,"  and  on  a  summer's  day  it  must  have 
presented  a  picture  of  life  and  gaiety  very  different  from 
its  present  melancholy  and  deserted  aspect.  It  was 
peopled  by  an  immense  fleet  of  boats  devoted  solely  to 
passenger  traffic,  which  were  signalled  by  passing  way- 
farers from  numerous  piers  between  Blackfriars  and 
Putney,  just  as  one  now  signals  a  hansom  or  taxi-cab. 
Besides  the  humble  boats  that  plied  for  hire,  there  were 
plenty  of  private  barges  fitted  up  with  no  little  luxury, 
and  manned  by  liveried  servants.  The  manners  and 
customs  of  the  boatmen  were  peculiar,  and  their  wit- 
combats,  carried  on  in  the  rich  and  expressive  vernacular 
of  Billingsgate,  were  already  proverbial.  However,  no 
one  seems  to  have  minded.     On  the  water  liberty  reigned 

has  recently  been  made  by  her  descendant,  Baron  Erich  von  Kielmansegg,  in 
his  edition  of  the  correspondence  of  Ernest  Augustus,  George  I's  youngest 
brother.  She  was  undoubtedly  George's  half-sister,  being  the  daughter  of 
his  father's  mistress  Countess  Platen,  but  those  who  know  what  was  the 
standard  of  morality  at  the  Hanoverian  court  will  require  a  more  cogent 
argument  than  this  to  convince  them,  in  the  teeth  of  all  contemporary  opinion, 
that  George's  relations  with  the  Baroness  were  purely  fraternal.  Undoubtedly 
she  was  extremely  unpopular  in  England — more,  it  is  to  be  feared,  because 
she  was  ugly,  rapacious,  and  a  foreigner  than  from  any  very  exalted  ideas  upon 
the  subject  of  morality.  There  is  a  story  that  one  day  when  she  was  driving 
abroad,  soon  after  her  arrival  in  England,  the  mob  became  abusive,  where- 
upon she  put  her  head  out  of  the  window  and  cried  in  shocking  English  : 
"  Good  people,  why  do  you  abuse  us  ?  We  come  for  all  your  goods."  "  Ay, 
damn  ye,"  answered  a  fellow  in  the  crowd,  "and  for  all  our  chattels  too." 
Horace  Walpole's  description  of  this  atrocious  harpy  is  worth  transcribing : 
"  I  remember  as  a  boy  being  terrified  at  her  enormous  figure.  Two  fierce 
black  eyes,  large  and  rolling  beneath  two  lofty  arched  eyebrows,  two  acres 
of  cheeks  spread  with  crimson,  an  ocean  of  neck  that  overflowed  and  was 
not  distinguished  from  the  lower  part  of  her  body,  and  no  part  restrained  by 
stays — no  wonder  that  a  child  dreaded  such  an  ogress  !  " 


supreme.  There  was  a  tacit  understanding  that  things 
were  there  permitted  which  in  the  prosaic  sobriety  of  the 
streets  would  have  savoured  of  indecorum.  George  I 
Hked  the  river.  When  the  court  was  at  Whitehall 
water-parties  to  Richmond  or  Hampton  Court  were  of  fre- 
quent occurrence,  and  as  often  as  not  the  royal  barge 
was  accompanied  by  an  attendant  boat  laden  with 

Taking  advantage  of  the  King's  taste  for  music,  and 
of  the  recognised  aquatic  licence  already  referred  to, 
Kielmansegg  and  Burlington  bade  Handel  compose  a 
suite  of  gay  dance  movements,  hired  a  competent  orchestra, 
and  arranged  that  on  the  occasion  of  the  next  royal 
water-party  —  possibly  that  mentioned  by  the  Flying 
Post,  soon  after  the  King's  coronation,  when,  George  I 
and  his  court  rowed  from  Whitehall  to  Limehouse,  and 
"were  diverted  by  a  concert  of  music  on  board,  which 
was  elegantly  performed  by  the  best  masters  and  instru- 
ments"— Handel  and  his  musicians  should  follow  the 
King's  barge,  discoursing  the  famous  composition  which 
ever  since  has  been   known  as  the  Water  Music.^     The 

^  Aquatic  serenades  of  this  kind  were  popular  at  the  time.  There  is  a 
description  of  one  in  Mrs.  Delany's  Correspondence  (vol.  i.  p.  ^o)•.  "Last 
Wednesday  I  was  all  night  upon  the  water  with  Lady  Harriot  Harley.  We 
went  into  the  barge  at  five  in  the  afternoon  and  landed  at  Whitehall  Stairs. 
We  rowed  up  the  river  as  far  as  Richmond,  and  were  entertained  all  the  time 
with  very  good  musick  in  another  barge.  The  concert  was  composed  of 
three  hautboys,  two  bassoons,  flute  allemagne,  and  young  Grenoc's  {sic) 

2  The  evidence  to  prove  that  the  Water  Music  was  composed  in  17 1 5  is 
almost  overwhelming.  At  the  same  time  it  is  interesting  to  know  that  a  very 
similar  performance  took  place  two  years  later,  which  is  recorded  in  the 
Daily  Courattt  of  19th  July  1717  :  "On  Wednesday  evening  (July  17)  at 
about  eight  the  King  took  water  at  Whitehall  in  an  open  barge,  wherein 
were  also  the  Duchess  of  Bolton,  the  Duchess  of  Newcastle,  the  Countess  of 


plot  succeeded ;  the  King  was  pleased,  and  asked  the 
name  of  the  composer,  which  gave  Kielmansegg  an 
opportunity  of  pleading  his  friend's  cause.  George  was 
in  a  melting  mood,  and  felt  that  Handel  had  endured 
exile  from  his  sacred  presence  long  enough.  The  com- 
poser was  summoned  from  the  neighbouring  barge  and 
duly  forgiven. 

Handel  made  his  first  appearance  at  a  court  concert 
shortly  afterwards,  at  the  special  request  of  another  old 
friend,  Geminiani  the  violinist,  who  had  recently  estab- 
lished himself  in  London.  Geminiani  was  notoriously 
difficult  to  accompany.  Burney  says  that  he  lost  the 
post  of  leader  of  the  opera-band  at  Naples  because  "  none 

Godolphin,  Madam  Kilmanseck,  and  the  Earl  of  Orkney,  and  went  up  the 
river  towards  Chelsea.  Many  other  barges  with  persons  of  quality  attended, 
and  so  great  a  number  of  boats,  that  the  whole  river  in  a  manner  was  covered. 
A  City  Company's  barge  was  employed  for  the  music,  wherein  were  fifty 
instruments  of  all  sorts,  who  played  all  the  way  from  Lambeth,  while  the 
barges  drove  with  the  tide  without  rowing  as  far  as  Chelsea,  the  finest 
symphonies,  composed  express  for  this  occasion  by  Mr.  Hendel,  which  His 
Majesty  liked  so  well  that  he  caused  it  to  be  played  over  three  times  in  going 
and  returning.  At  eleven  his  Majesty  went  ashore  at  Chelsea,  where  a 
supper  was  prepared,  and  then  there  was  another  very  fine  consort  of  music, 
which  lasted  till  two,  after  which  His  Majesty  came  again  into  his  barge  and 
returned  the  same  way,  the  music  continuing  to  play  until  he  landed." 
Another  account,  in  The  Political  State  of  Great  Britain,  mentions  that  the 
music  was  under  the  direction  of  Baron  Kielmansegg.  When  Chrysander 
wrote  the  first  volume  of  his  biography  of  Handel  in  1858  he  followed  the 
contemporary  authorities  in  attributing  the  Water  Music  to  the  year  17 15. 
In  1867,  however,  in  his  third  volume,  in  discussing  Handel's  instrumental 
works  he  seems  inclined  to  think  that  it  was  actually  performed  for  the  first 
time  in  I7l7'  Twenty  years  later  (  Vierteljahrsschrift  fiir  Mttsikwissen- 
schaft,  Jahrg.  iii.,  1887)  he  recanted  his  heresy,  and  returned  to  his  original 
opinion.  It  is  quite  possible  that  the  Water  Music  as  we  now  know  it  was 
not  all  written  for  the  same  occasion.  Its  twenty-five  numbers  may  very 
well  represent  Handel's  share  in  numerous  water-parties.  It  should  be 
remembered  that  the  Water  Music  was  not  published  until  1740. 


of  the  performers  were  able  to  follow  him  in  his  tempo 
rubato,"  and  Tartini  christened  him  "il  furibondo 
Geminiani,"  He  had  written  some  new  concertos,  which 
he  was  anxious  to  perform,  but  he  declared  that  nobody 
but  Handel  could  play  the  harpsichord  part.  It  was  a 
case  of  no  Handel,  no  concerto,  and  George  I,  nothing 
loth,  gave  way.  Handel  was  thus  fully  reinstated  in  the 
royal  favour,  and  the  reconciliation  was  cemented  by 
the  King's  allotting  him  a  pension  of  i^200,  in  addition 
to  that  already  given  him  by  Queen  Anne,  A  few  years 
later  he  received  yet  another  pension  of  the  same  amount 
from  the  Princess  of  Wales,  his  old  friend  and  patroness 
Caroline  of  Ansbach,  on  his  appointment  as  music  master 
to  her  little  daughters.  This  ^600  he  continued  to  enjoy 
for  the  rest  of  his  life. 

When  George  I  landed  in  England,  he  frankly  con- 
fessed that  he  did  not  expect  to  stay  long.  The  Jacobites 
were  powerful  and  determined,  and  he  took  up  his 
residence  at  St.  James's  in  the  full  expectation  of  being 
turned  out  bag  and  baggage  at  no  distant  date.  At  first 
it  seemed  that  his  predictions  were  going  to  be  fulfilled. 
The  King  himself  made  no  secret  of  his  dislike  for 
England  and  everything  English — even  our  oysters  were 
so  different  from  the  stale  ones  to  which  he  was 
accustomed  at  Hanover  that  they  had  to  be  kept  for 
a  day  or  two  to  suit  his  palate.  He  was  unpopular,  his 
mistresses  were  more  unpopular  still,  and  the  crowd  of 
hungry  "  Hanoverian  rats,"  as  the  people  called  them, 
who  settled  upon  the  court  and  country  and  snatched  all 
the  best  places  from  under  the  noses  of  English  aspirants, 
brought  the  new  dynasty  into  general  disfavour.  But  as 
time  passed  on,  his  position  grew  more  secure.  The 
English  people  as  a  whole  cared  very  little  who  ruled 


them,  so  long  as  they  were  let  alone,  and  the  Hanoverian 
dynasty  was  probably  as  good  or  as  bad  as  another. 
The  Jacobite  rising  of  171 5  collapsed,  the  Septennial 
Act  was  passed,  and  in  the  summer  of  17 16  George 
thought  he  might  allow  himself  a  holiday  and  pay  a 
visit  to  his  beloved  Hanover.  On  the  eve  of  his  departure 
he  held  a  Drawing-room.  "  The  King  in  mighty  good 
humour,"  wrote  Lady  Cowper.  "  When  I  wished  him  a  good 
journey  and  a  quick  return,  he  looked  as  if  the  last  part 
of  my  speech  was  needless,  and  that  he  did  not  think 
of  it."  George  set  out  for  Hanover  on  9th  July  17 16, 
accompanied  by  a  numerous  suite,  including  both  his 
mistresses  and  his  Kapellmeister  Handel.  Hanover 
received  them  with  open  arms,  and  George  put  aside  the 
splendid  dulness  and  wearisome  etiquette  of  St.  James's 
with  delight,  and  settled  down  to  his  pipes  and  his  beer 
and  his  snuffy  clothes  with  the  utmost  relief. 

Lady  Mary  Wortley  Montagu,  who  stopped  at  Hanover 
for  a  short  time  on  her  way  to  Constantinople,  found  it 
v-ery  gay  and  very  crowded.  "  The  King,"  she  wrote, 
"  has  had  the  goodness  to  appoint  us  a  lodging  in  the 
palace,  without  which  we  should  be  very  ill  accommodated, 
for  the  vast  number  of  English  crowds  the  town  so  much, 
it  is  very  good  luck  to  be  able  to  get  one  sorry  room  in 
a  miserable  tavern.  .  .  .  The  King's  company  of  French 
comedians  play  here  every  night.  They  are  very  well 
dressed,  and  some  of  them  not  ill  actors.  His  Majesty 
dines  and  sups  constantly  in  public.  The  court  is  very 
numerous,  and  his  affability  and  goodness  make  it  one 
of  the  most  agreeable  places  in  the  world."  The  success 
of  the  French  comedians  seems  to  have  left  no  room  for 
opera,  and  Handel  must  have  found  time  hang  heavy  on 
his  hands.     He   amused  himself  by  setting  to   music  a 


poetical  version  of  the  story  of  the  Passion  by  Barthold 
Brockes,  a  distinguished  citizen  of  Hamburg,  which  had 
already  been  set  by  Keiser,  and  was  subsequently  set  by 
Telemann  and  Mattheson.^  He  also  found  time  for  a 
visit  to  Halle,  where  his  mother  still  lived.  His  old  friend 
Zachow  was  dead,  and  his  widow,  who  was  left  in  poor 
circumstances,  was  thankful  for  the  assistance  that  Handel 
generously  gave.  His  travels  extended  as  far  as  Ansbach, 
whither  probably  he  went  with  some  commission  from  the 
Princess  of  Wales.  There  he  found  an  old  college  friend, 
Johann  Christopher  Schmidt,  whom  he  induced  to  migrate 
to  London  and  to  live  with  him  as  his  secretary  and 
factotum.  Schmidt  had  a  son  of  thirteen  in  whom 
Handel  took  a  friendly  interest,  paying  for  his  schooling, 
and  watching  over  him  with  almost  paternal  affection. 
In  due  time  the  boy,  who  anglicised  his  name  into  Smith, 

^  There  is  a  good  deal  of  uncertainty  as  to  the  genesis  of  Handel's  Brockes 
Passion.  Mattheson  says  in  his  Ehren-Pforte  that  it  was  "  composed  in 
England  and  sent  by  post  to  Hamburg  in  an  uncommonly  close-written  score," 
but  Mattheson's  sketch  of  Handel's  career  is  so  thickly  sown  with  inaccuracies 
that  it  is  difficult  to  put  much  faith  in  any  of  his  statements.  It  is  at  least 
probable  that  the  fact  of  his  being  on  German  soil  turned  Handel's  thoughts 
in  the  direction  of  German  oratorio,  and  the  eulogies  of  Reiser's  setting  of 
Brockes's  Passion,  which  he  must  almost  unavoidably  have  heard  at  Hanover, 
may  very  well  have  tempted  him  to  pay  his  old  rival  out  in  his  own  coin  for 
the  impertinence  of  having  re-set  Abnira  ten  years  before.  Mr.  P.  Robinson, 
in  his  recent  work,  Handel  and  his  Orbit,  inclines  to  the  theory  that  Handel 
wrote  his  Passion  for  performance  in  England  before  the  German-speaking 
King  and  his  court.  There  has  been  a  half-hearted  attempt  made  in  recent 
years  to  whitewash  George  I,  and  to  present  him  as  a  highly  moral  and 
respectable  person,  but  even  his  most  devoted  advocates  have  not  ventured 
to  claim  [much  for  him  on  the  score  of  piety  ;  and  the  notion  of  the  old 
reprobate  sitting  in  the  Chapel  Royal,  with  the  "Elephant"  and  the 
"Maypole"  enthroned  like  cherubim,  the  one  on  his  right  hand  and  the 
other  on  his  left,  snuffling  in  concert  over  the  Passion  music,  is,  to  borrow 
a  phrase  of  Mr.  Andrew  Lang's,  a  little  too  steep  ! 


succeeded  his  father  as  Handel's  amanuensis,  and  later  in 
his  career  won  considerable  fame  as  a  composer. 

King  George  left  for  England  on  the  5th  of  January 
17 1 7,  and  there  is  no  reasonable  ground  for  doubting  that 
Handel  went  with  him.  There  was  nothing  for  him  to 
do  at  Hanover,  and  his  presence  was  urgently  needed  in 
London,  where  a  revival  of  Rinaldo  took  place  on  the  very 
day  he  left  Hanover,  while  another  of  Amadigi  v^^iS,  close 
at  hand.  He  took  with  him  his  setting  of  the  Brockes 
Passion^  as  it  is  usually  called  to  distinguish  it  from  the 
John  Passion  written  in  1704,  had  it  copied  in  London, 
and  sent  it  to  Hamburg,  where  it  was  performed  in  Lent 


MUSIC,  1718-1726 

JAMES  BRYDGES,  first  Duke  of  Chandos,  was  the 
cynosure  of  his  age.     His  splendour  and  extrava- 
gance, his  generosity  and  ostentation,  made  him  the 
talk  of  the  town.     As  Paymaster  to  the  British  forces  he 
had  amassed  an  immense  fortune,  by  means  which  Swift 
branded  in  the  famous  line — 

"  Since  all  he  got  by  fraud  he  lost  by  stocks," 

and  he  signalised  his  retirement  by  building  the  magnifi- 
cent palace  of  Canons,  close  to  the  village  of  Edgware, 
where  he  lived  in  regal  state  surrounded  by  crowds  of 
lackeys  and  parasites.  Everything  at  Canons  was  in  the 
grand  style.  Pope,  who  satirised  Chandos  in  his  Epistle 
to  Lord  Burlington,  made  fun  of  the  princely  owner's 
megalomania : — 

"  To  compass  this,  his  building  is  a  town, 
His  pond  an  ocean,  his  parterre  a  down," 

and  ridiculed  the  tasteless  magnificence  that  reigned 
in  every  corner.  But  humbler  mortals  bowed  before 
splendour  so  profuse.  Defoe's  fluent  vocabulary  scarcely 
served  to  sing  the  praises  of  Canons.^  "  It  is  in  vain," 
he  wrote,  "  to   attempt  to   describe   the  beauties  of  this 

^  Tour  in  England,  1725,  vol.  ii. 


building;  and  as  the  Firmament  is  a  glorious  Mantle 
filled  with,  or  as  it  were  made  up  of  a  Concurrence  of 
lesser  glories  the  stars,  so  every  part  of  this  Building 
adds  to  the  beauty  of  the  whole."  The  Duke,  if  not 
himself  a  musician,  fully  appreciated  the  importance  of 
music  in  adding  to  the  dignity  of  every  kind  of  ceremony. 
His  private  chapel  at  Canons  was  a  masterpiece  of  its 
kind,  designed  in  imitation  of  the  fashionable  baroque 
Italian  style,  and  painted  with  sprawling  cherubs  by 
Bellucci  and  Zamen,^  and  the  music  was  worthy  of  its 
shrine.     Pope  of  course  sneered  at  it : — 

"And  now  the  Chapel's  silver  bell  you  hear, 
That  summons  you  to  all  the  pride  of  prayer ; 
Light  quirks  of  music,  broken  and  uneven, 
Make  the  soul  dance  upon  a  jig  to  Heaven." 

But  Pope  was  notoriously  ignorant  of  music,  and  other 
authorities  give  a  very  different  account.  Defoe  says : 
"  The  Chapel  is  a  singularity  not  only  in  its  building  and 
the  beauty  of  its  workmanship,  but  in  this  also,  that  the 
Duke  maintains  there  a  full  Choir,  and  has  the  Worship 
performed  there  with  the  best  musick,  after  the  manner 
of  the  Chapel  Royal,  which  is  not  done  in  any  other 
Nobleman's  Chapel  in  Britain,  no  not  the  Prince  of 
Wales's,  though  heir  apparent  to  the  Crown.  Nor  is  this 
Chapel  only  furnished  with  such  excellent  musick,  but  the 
Duke  has  a  set  of  them  to  entertain  him  every  day  at  dinner." 
It  has  often  been  said  that  when  Canons  was  pulled 
down,  the  chapel  was  left  standing,  and  became  the 
parish  church  of  Whitchurch,  which  still  exists.  This, 
like  so  many  other  Handelian  traditions  which  have  been 
religiously  copied  by  one  biographer  from  another,  is  a 
piece  of  pure  romance.     The  private  chapel  at  Canons 

1  Pope,  Letter  to  Aaron  Hill,  5th  February  1732. 


and  the  parish  church  of  Whitchurch  were  two  perfectly- 
distinct  buildings.  Both  are  mentioned  in  A  Joiivfiey 
through  England,  1722,  vol.  ii. :  "The  Chapel,  which  is 
already  furnished,  hath  a  choir  of  Vocal  and  Instrumental 
Musick.  .  .  .  The  Front  from  the  great  stairs  is  to  the 
East,  and  hath  an  Avenue  directly  from  it  down  to  the 
Parish  Church,  at  above  half  a  mile's  distance."  Another 
baseless  tradition  relates  to  the  organ  in  Whitchurch 
Church,  which  bears  the  inscription  :  "  Handel  was  organist 
of  this  Church  from  the  year  17 1 8  to  172 1,  and  composed 
the  oratorio  of  Esther  on  this  organ." 

It  is  scarcely  necessary  to  observe  that  musicians  do 
not  compose  oratorios  "  on  the  organ,"  and  even  if  Handel 
had  done  so  it  would  not  have  been  on  the  Whitchurch 
organ,  but  upon  the  fine  Jordan  organ  in  the  private 
chapel  at  Canons,  which  at  the  Chandos  sale  in  1747  was 
purchased  for  Trinity  Church,  Gosport,  where  it  may 
still  be  seen,  bearing  the  Chandos  coat  of  arms.  Yet 
another  tradition  is  concerned  with  the  Duke  himself 
arid  his  third  wife,  whom  he  is  alleged  to  have  bought 
from  a  groom  who  was  ill-treating  her.  There  is  some 
foundation  for  the  story,  though  the  hero  of  it  was  not 
Handel's  patron,  but  his  son  Henry,  the  second  Duke.i 

The  princely  Chandos,  in  music,  as  in  everything  else, 
was  determined  to  have  the  best  that  could  be  procured! 
His  choir  and  orchestra  were  carefully  chosen,  and  he 
made  up  his  mind  that  the  leader  should  be  worthy  ot 
the  forces  at  his  disposal.  His  first  musical  director  was 
John  Christopher  Pepusch,  a  German  musician  who  had 
settled  in  London  about  the  year  1690  and  made  a  good 
position  for  himself  as  a  teacher.     Pepusch  was  a  capable 

1  Robinson,    The  Princely  Ckatzdos ;  and   Did.  of  Nat.  Biog.,  sub  voce 
Brydges,  James. 


musician,  but  the  divine  fire  seldom  touched  his  lips,  and 
probably  the  Duke,  like  Mrs.  Delany,  soon  found  out 
that  his  music  was  "very  humdrum."^  At  any  rate,  in 
1718  he  either  resigned  or  was  displaced  in  favour  of 
Handel,  who  finding  that  there  was  nothing  to  be  done  in 
London  in  the  way  ot  opera,  of  which  the  fickle  world 
of  fashion  seemed  suddenly  to  have  weaned,  gladly 
accepted  the  Duke's  offer,  left  London  to  its  French 
ballets  and  farces,  and  established  himself  at  Canons. 
Handel's  position  at  Canons  corresponded  with  that 
occupied  by  Haydn  in  the  household  of  Prince  Esterhazy 
some  years  later,  but  Handel's  duties  did  not  apparently 
include  the  supply  of  Tafelniusik  required  to  aid  his 
patron's  digestion.  He  seems  to  have  written  no 
orchestral  music  at  Canons,  but  his  best  energies  were 
devoted  to  the  production  of  the  magnificent  series  of 
"  Chandos "  anthems,  which  were  performed  in  the  ducal 
chapel  with  the  utmost  pomp  and  circumstance.  A 
setting  of  the  Te  Deum  dates  also  from  this  period, 
and — more  important  still — his  first  English  oratorio, 
Esther,  and  the  serenata.  Acts  and  Galatea.  It  is  very 
much  to  be  regretted  that  so  little  is  known  of  the 
circumstances  in  which  two  works  of  such  exceptional 
importance  in  the  history  of  Handel's  musical  develop- 
ment were  written  and  produced — Acis,  the  summing  up, 
as  it  were,  of  all  that  Italy  had  taught  the  composer ; 
Esther,  the  first  step  upon  the  new  pathway  that  was 
ultimately  to  lead  him  to  fame,  fortune,  and  immortality. 
It  has  been  often  stated  that  Esther  was  produced  on 
the  29th  August  1720,  but  this  is  merely  a  conjecture. 
What  really  happened  at  Canons  on  that  date  may  be 
read   in    the    Weekly  Journal  for   3rd    September    1720 : 

^  Delany,  Correspondence,  vol.  i. 


"  His  Grace  the  Duke  of  Chandos's  domestic  Chapel,  at 
his  seat  at  Canons,  Edgware,  curiously  adorned  with 
paintings  on  the  windows  and  ceilings,  had  Divine 
Worship  performed  in  it  with  an  Anthem  on  Monday 
last  (29th  August),  it  being  the  first  time  of  its  being 
opened."  It  is  scarcely  possible  that  the  "  Anthem  "  in 
question  can  have  been  Esther.  Handel  himself  described 
his  new  venture  into  the  realm  of  oratorio  as  a  masque, 
and  undoubtedly  he  intended  that  it  should  be  performed 
with  scenery,  dresses,  and  action — in  fact  precisely  as  it 
was  given  in  1732  at  Bernard  Gates's  house  by  the 
children  of  the  Chapel  Royal.  The  idea  of  performing 
an  oratorio  in  ordinary  concert  form  was  a  much  later 
development.  The  libretto  of  Esther,  which  is  an 
adaptation  of  Racine's  famous  drama,  has  been  attributed 
to  a  certain  Samuel  Humphreys,  who  wrote  a  dull  poem 
on  Canons  which  he  dedicated  to  the  Duke  of  Chandos, 
and  later  in  his  career  supplied  Handel  with  the  librettos 
of  AtJialiah  and  Deboi-ah.  It  is  more  likely,  however,  that 
it  was  the  work  of  Pope,  who  at  any  rate  never  denied  the 
soft  impeachment,  though  it  is  possible  that  Arbuthnot,  to 
whom  it  is  ascribed  in  some  of  the  early  text-books,  had  a 
hand  in  it.  Acis,  which  was  probably  produced  in  1721, 
was  the  work  of  Handel's  old  friend  Gay.  The  Burlington 
circle  thus  had  its  share  in  the  new  development  of  Handel's 
genius,  and  it  is  not  too  much  to  assume  that  the  idea  of 
English  oratorio  took  shape  in  the  discussions  around  the 
hospitable  board  of  Handel's  earliest  English  patron. 

Handel's  association  with  Canons  did  not  cut  him  off 
altogether  from  London  life.  Two  of  his  letters  written 
in  1719  are  dated  from  London:  the  one  a  courteous 
refusal  to  contribute  an  autobiography  to  Mattheson's 
Ehren-Pforte,    and    the    other    an    affectionate   letter   of 


sympathy  to  his  brother-in-law  Michaelsen,  who  had  lost 
his  wife  a  short  time  before.  It  was,  too,  during  his 
residence  at  Canons  that  he  was  appointed  music  master 
to  the  daughters  of  his  old  friend  Caroline,  the  Princess 
of  Wales.  There  exists  in  the  Buckingham  Palace 
Library  a  copy  by  Smith  of  a  set  of  "  Lessons  composed 
for  the  Princess  Louisa,"  and  it  is  more  than  possible  that 
the  famous  Suites  de  Pieces  pour  le  Clavecin,  which  were 
published  in  November  1720,  owe  their  origin  to  the  neces- 
sities of  Handel's  royal  pupils.  Many  fair  fingers  must  have 
itched  to  play  the  pieces  that  the  illustrious  young  ladies 
were  daily  strumming  in  their  schoolroom  in  Leicester 
Fields,  and  the  musical  pirates  of  the  day  were  equal  to  the 
occasion.  In  his  preface  to  the  first  edition,  Handel  observed 
that  he  had  been  "  obliged  to  publish  some  of  the  following 
lessons,  because  surreptitious  and  incorrect  copies  of  them 
had  got  abroad,"  adding  with  his  habitual  courtliness  that 
he  reckoned  it  his  duty  with  his  small  talent  to  serve  a 
nation  from  which  he  had  received  so  generous  a  protection. 
One  of  the  pieces  is  the  famous  air  with  variations 
now  universally  known  as  "  The  Harmonious  Blacksmith," 
which  has  probably  occasioned  the  writing  of  more 
nonsense  than  any  other  musical  composition  in  the  world. 
The  origin  of  the  foolish  nickname  is  unknown,  but  it 
certainly  dates  from  long  after  Handel's  time.  The 
earliest  known  edition  on  which  it  appears  was  published 
in  1820.  The  title  is  obviously  a  publisher's  catch-penny 
invention,  like  that  affixed  with  the  same  wantonness  to 
Beethoven's  so-called  "  Moonlight "  sonata.  There  is  not 
a  shadow  of  foundation  for  the  absurd  stories  that  have 
been  fabricated  in  order  to  account  for  the  name,  but  they 
have  been  copied  and  repeated  so  often  by  men  who 
ought  to  have  known  better,  that  it  is  probably  useless  at 


this  time  of  day  to  attempt  to  explode  them.  Follies  ot 
this  kind  die  hard,  and  the  legend  of  Handel's  friend,  the 
blacksmith  of  Edgware,  with  his  hammer,  anvil,  and 
other  appurtenances,  baseless  fabric  of  a  vision  as  it  is, 
will  probably  live  until  the  cloud-capped  towers  of  Handel's 
fame  themselves  dissolve  and  leave  not  a  rack  behind. 

Handel  lived  a  busy  life  at  this  time.  He  had  duties 
in  London  as  well  as  at  Canons,  and  he  must  have  learnt 
to  know  every  tree  on  the  Edgware  Road  by  heart. 
Travelling  in  those  days,  though  more  tedious  than  at 
present,  had  a  spice  of  excitement  which  is  denied  to  us. 
Here,  for  instance,  is  a  specimen  incident  of  the  time, 
recorded  by  the  Weekly  Journal  of  the  1 1  th  of  February 
1720,  of  which  it  is  quite  possible  that  Handel  himself  was 
a  witness :  "  On  Monday  as  the  Duke  of  Chandos  was 
riding  to  his  beautiful  house  at  Edgware,  and  being  before 
his  retinue  some  distance,  two  highwaymen  came  up  and 
bid  him  deliver  his  money,  but  his  servants  coming  in 
view  fired  their  pistols,  as  did  the  highwaymen,  but  neither 
hurt  or  killed.  One  of  the  highwaymen  quitted  his  horse 
and  jumped  over  the  hedge,  and  was  followed  by  one  of 
the  Duke's  servants,  who  knocked  him  down  and  took 
him,  and  the  other  was  pursued  to  Tyburn  and  there 
taken.     Both  were  committed  to  Newgate." 

Early  in  17 19  the  town,  which  had  contrived  to  get 
through  two  years  without  an  opera,  save  for  an  attempt 
at  a  season  of  English  opera  conducted  by  Owen 
MacSwiney  at  the  Little  Theatre  in  Lincoln's  Inn  Fields, 
suddenly  awoke  to  a  sense  of  its  deprivation.  The  South 
Sea  Bubble  was  in  the  heyday  of  its  success,  and  com- 
pany promoting  was  in  the  air.  Following  the  fashion  of 
the  day,  a  number  of  the  nobility  and  gentry  put  their 
heads  together  and  founded  the  Royal  Academy  of  Music, 


which,  in  spite  of  its  high-sounding  name,  was  only  a 
company  for  the  production  of  Italian  opera  at  the  King's 
Theatre  in  the  Haymarket.  The  capital  subscribed  was 
;^50,ooo,  in  500  shares  of  £100,  and  the  King  headed  the  list 
with  ^1000.  The  company  was  ruled  by  a  governor,  deputy 
governor,  and  twenty  directors.  The  first  year  the  Duke  of 
Newcastle  was  governor,  Lord  Bingley  deputy  governor, 
and  the  directors,  of  whom  Lord  Burlington  was  naturally 
one,  were  chosen  from  the  finest  flower  of  rank  and  fashion. 
The  Academy  started  with  the  brightest  promise. 
Everything  was  to  be  the  best  of  its  kind.  Handel 
naturally  headed  the  list  of  musical  directors,  and 
with  him  were  associated  Giovanni  Maria  Bononcini,  a 
brother  of  the  Marcantonio  whose  Camilla  had  proved 
so  much  to  the  taste  of  London  audiences,  and  Attilio 
Ariosti.  Paolo  Rolli  and  Nicola  Haym  were  appointed 
poets  to  the  establishment,  and  Heidegger  was  the  stage 
manager.  It  was  a  curious  fate  that  thus  put  Handel 
into  the  company  of  the  two  men  with  whom,  if  an  oft- 
repeated  legend  is  true,  he  had  been  thrust  into  rivalry 
in  Berlin  some  years  before.  The  omen  was  not  favour- 
able, but  no  gloomy  forebodings  troubled  the  sanguine 
promoters  of  the  new  scheme.  Handel  was  at  once 
dispatched  to  the  Continent  to  enlist  a  nc.v  company  of 
singers.  He  left  London  at  the  end  of  February  17 19, 
journeying  first  to  Diisseldorf,  where  he  engaged  Benedetto 
Baldassarri,  and  then  proceeding  to  Dresden,  where  the 
opera  was  at  that  time  particularly  good.  There  he 
secured  the  services  of  Senesino,  the  most  famous  castrato 
of  the  age,  a  worthless  man  but  a  marvellous  artist ;  of 
Signora  Durastanti,  who  had  sung  in  Agrippina  at  Venice 
in  1709;  of  Boschi,  the  well-known  bass,  and  of  several 
others.     Business  over,  he  turned  to  pleasure,  and  paid  a 

l',,"'|iiiii;i'ii^/  I'l'-ijuii^' 


visit  to  his  mother  at  Halle.  While  he  was  there  he  might, 
had  fate  been  propitious,  have  made  the  acquaintance 
of  Johann  Sebastian  Bach,  who  at  that  time  graced 
the  court  of  Prince  Leopold  of  Anhalt-Cothen.  Bach, 
hearing  that  his  famous  contemporary  was  actually  stay- 
ing within  forty  miles,  journeyed  to  Halle  in  order  to 
meet  him.  But  he  had  given  Handel  no  warning  of  his 
intended  visit,  and  when  he  reached  Halle,  he  found 
that  Handel  had  set  out  for  England  the  day  before. 
Bach's  disappointment  was  doubtless  great,  but  ours  may 
be  tempered  by  the  reflection  that  had  the  two  men  met,  no 
record  of  their  conversation  would  probably  have  been  pre- 
served, or  that  if  it  had  it  would  doubtless  have  been  as 
little  worthy  of  so  unique  an  occasion  as  was  the  famous 
interview  between  Jackson  and  Nansen  on  the  ice-floes  of 
Franz  Josef  Land.  They  might,  however,  have  compared 
notes  as  to  their  respective  impressions  of  the  court  of 
Dresden,  where  Handel  had  just  been  presented  with  the 
handsome  sum  of  a  hundred  ducats  for  playing  the  harp- 
sichord to  the  King  and  Crown  Prince ;  whereas  Bach, 
who  a  year  before  had  vanquished  the  French  performer 
Marchand  in  single  combat,  was  swindled  out  of  his  fee 
by  a  knavish  courtier.  Handel  might  have  amused  Bach, 
too,  by  telling  him  how  his  independent  manners  had 
shocked  the  aristocratic  flunkeys  at  Dresden.  A  certain 
Count  von  Flemming,  in  particular,  seems  to  have  had 
his  feelings  sadly  outraged.  Writing  to  Melusine  von 
Schulenburg,^  who  was  a  pupil  of  Handel's,  he  observes 

^  Melusine  von  Schulenburg  was  a  daughter  of  George  I's  notorious  mistress, 
the  Duchess  of  Kendal.  In  1733  she  married  the  famous  Lord  Chesterfield, 
whose  biographer,  Dr.  Maty,  Principal  Librarian  of  the  British  Museum, observes 
that  "  her  amiableness  of  character,  the  accomplishments  of  her  mind,  her  taste 
for  the  fine  arts,  and  in  particular  for  music,  rendered  her  a  fit  companion  for 
Lord  Chesterfield."  {Miscellaneous  Works  of  Lord  Chesterfield, \']']'j,-^o\.  i.  p. 71.) 


querulously :  "  I  tried  to  get  a  word  with  Mr.  Handel,  and 
to  pay  him  some  civility  for  your  sake,  but  I  could  do 
nothing.  I  used  your  name  in  inviting  him  to  come  to 
see  me,  but  he  was  always  out  or  else  ill.  To  tell  the 
truth,  I  think  he  is  a  little  mad  ! "  ^ 

Handel  returned  in  due  course  to  London,  where  about 
this  time  he  established  himself  in  the  house  in  Brook 
Street,  which  remained  his  home  for  the  rest  of  his  life.^  On 
the  2nd  of  April  1720  the  Royal  Academy  of  Music  opened 
its  campaign  with  Giovanni  Porta's  Niunitore^  a  useful 
stop-gap,  which  served  to  keep  the  subscribers  amused  until 
the  great  novelty  of  the  season,  Handel's  Radamisto,  was 
ready.  The  latter  aroused  an  unusual  amount  of  interest. 
While  the  rehearsals  were  in  progress  it  was  the  favourite 
topic  of  the  coffee-houses,  and  it  drew  an  epigram  from 
the  great  Sir  Isaac  Newton.  Dr.  Stukeley,  the  celebrated 
antiquary,  records  in  his  diary  a  meeting  with  the  famous 
philosopher,  then  in  extreme  old  age:  ''April  18, — At  the 
Lincolnshire  Feast,  Ship  Tavern,  Temple  Bar, — present. 
Sir  Isaac  Newton.  Upon  my  mentioning  to  him  the 
rehearsal  of  the  opera  to-night  {Radamisto),  he  said  he 
never  was  at  more  than  one  opera.  The  first  act  he  heard 
with  pleasure,  the  second  stretched  his  patience,  at  the 
third  he  ran  away."^  Radamisto,  after  a  postponement 
"  by  Royal  Command,"  was  finally  produced  with  great 
pomp  and  circumstance  on  the  27th  of  April.  All  London 
turned  out  to  do  honour  to  the  popular  composer,  and  to 
criticise  the  new  singers.     As  a  matter  of  fact,  neither 

'  Opel,  Rlittheilungeit  zur  Geschichte  der  Familie  Handel. 

"  Handel's  name  first  appears  in  the  rate  books  of  St.  George's,  Hanover 
Square,  in  1725,  but  some  years  ago  Dr.  W.  H.  Cummings,  while  examining 
the  house,  discovered  a  fine  cast-lead  cistern,  on  the  firont  of  which  was  the 
inscription,  "  1721  G.F.H." 

^  William  Stukeley,  Family  Memoirs  [Surtees  Society],  vol.  i.  p.  59. 


Senesino  nor  Durastanti  sang  in  the  original  production 
of  Radamisto,  though  both  appeared  in  a  revival  of  it  a 
few  months  later.  An  entry  in  Lady  Cowper's  diary  gives 
a  curt  memorandum  of  the  event.  "  At  night  Radamistus, 
a  fine  opera  of  Handel's  making.  The  King  there  with 
his  ladies.  The  Prince  in  the  stage-box.  Great  crowd." 
The  crowd  was  great  indeed,  and  Mainwaring's  descrip- 
tion of  the  scene  sounds  like  a  prophetic  vision  of  the 
riotous  frenzy  that  accompanied  the  Jenny  Lind  furore 
more  than  a  century  later :  "  There  was  no  shadow  of 
form  or  ceremony,  scarce  indeed  any  appearance  of  order 
or  regularity,  politeness  or  decency.  Many,  who  had 
forced  their  way  into  the  house  with  an  impetuosity  but 
ill  suited  to  their  rank  and  sex,  actually  fainted  through 
the  excessive  heat  and  closeness  of  it.  Several  gentlemen 
were  turned  back,  who  had  offered  forty  shillings  for  a  seat 
in  the  gallery,  after  having  despaired  of  getting  any  in  the 
pit  or  boxes."  Radamisto  carried  the  opera  on  to  the  end 
of  the  season,  and  in  the  following  autumn  Senesino 
appeared  for  the  first  time  in  Bononcini's  Astarto, 
Bononcini's  pretty  tunes  and  Senesino's  marvellous 
voice  ^  between  them  captivated  the  ear  of  the  public. 
Astarto  ran  for  something  like  thirty  nights,  and  Bon- 
oncini  became  in  public  opinion  a  dangerous  rival  to 

So  high  did  party  feeling  run  between  the  sup- 
porters of  the  two  composers,  that  the  directors  of  the 
Royal   Academy  finally  hit   upon   a   curious  method   of 

^  It  is  difficult  for  us  moderns  to  realise  what  the  voice  of  a  castrato  was 
like.  The  expression  used  by  Burney,  of  a  song  being  "thundered  out" 
by  the  voice  of  Senesino,  proves  it  must  have  been  something  very  different 
from  anything  that  is  now  to  be  heard.  It  must  have  had  all  the  force  of  a 
tenor  or  bass  voice,  with  the  compass  of  a  soprano  or  contralto. 


settling  the  point  of  precedence.  They  persuaded  the 
rival  musicians  to  collaborate,  and  arranged  to  produce  a 
new  opera  of  which  the  third  act  was  to  be  written  by 
Handel,  and  the  second  by  Bononcini,  the  first  falling  to 
the  lot  of  Filippo  Mattei,  usually  called  "  Pipo."  ^  Muzio 
Scevola,  the  hybrid  opera  in  question,  was  produced  on 
the  15th  of  April  1721.  Naturally  enough,  it  won  little 
success,  indeed  at  the  first  performance  the  audience  took 
much  less  interest  in  the  music  than  in  the  news  of  the 
birth  of  the  Duke  of  Cumberland,  which  was  announced 
during  the  evening.^  Nor  did  Muzio  Scevola  settle  for 
a  moment  the  controversy  as  to  the  respective  merits 
of  the  rival  composers,  which  raged  indeed  more  fiercely 
after  the  production  than  before  it.  Meanwhile,  the  affairs 
of  the  Academy  were  not  prospering.  The  audiences 
were  good,  but  the  enormous  expenses  swallowed  up 
every  penny  of  profit,  and  frequent  calls  were  made 
upon  the  subscribers  in  order  to  cover  the  season's 
expenses.  During  the  season  of  1721-22,  however,  the 
tide  turned,  and  a  dividend  of  7  per  cent,  was  declared. 
The  chief  cause  of  this  happy  state  of  affairs  was 
Bononcini,  whose  Crispo  and  Griselda  scored  great 
successes  during  the  spring  of  1722.  Handel  was  less 
successful  with  his  Floridante,  which  appeared  on  the 
9th  of  December  1721,  with  Senesino  in  the  principal  part. 

^  An  ambiguous  passage  in  Mainwaring's  Memoirs  has  given  rise  to  a 
tradition,  which  has  been  copied  by  later  writers,  that  the  first  act  of  Muzio 
Scevola  was  v/ritten  by  Attilio  Ariosti.  Contemporary  evidence,  however, 
makes  it  certain  that  Mattei  was  the  composer.  In  Opel's  Alittheihmgen 
ztir  Geschichte  der  Familie  Handel,  a  letter  is  quoted  from  Fabrice  to  Count 
von  Flemming  in  which  the  question  is  settled  beyond  a  doubt.  "  Chaque  acte 
de  cet  opera,"  he  says,  "est  d'un  compositeur  different,  le  premier  par  un 
nomme  Pipo,  le  second  par  Bononcini,  et  le  troisieme  par  Hendell,  qui  I'a 
emporte  haut  a  la  main." 

^  See  the  letter  already  quoted  in  Opel's  Mittheilungen. 


His  women  singers  did  not  do  him  justice.  Durastanti 
was  not  a  success.  The  English  public  thought  her  hard 
and  masculine,  and  Anastasia  Robinson  was  not  musician 
enough  to  sing  his  music  as  it  should  be  sung.  In 
Bononcini's  simpler  strains  she  did  well  enough.  A 
trifling  little  ballad  like  "  Per  la  gloria"  was  well  within 
her  powers,  and  it  was  as  the  patient  heroine  of  Griselda, 
in  which  this  song  occurs,  that  she  is  supposed  to  have 
completed  her  conquest  of  Lord  Peterborough's 
susceptible  heart. 

But  a  singer  was  already  on  her  way  to  England 
who  was  destined  to  restore  to  Handel  his  rightful 
supremacy,  and  to  put  a  speedy  end  to  Bononcini's 
shortlived  triumph  —  the  famous  Francesca  Cuzzoni. 
Meanwhile  the  autumn  season  had  begun,  and  the 
wheels  of  Cuzzoni's  chariot  were  lingering.  Handel  grew 
impatient,  and  sent  his  trusty  lieutenant  Sandoni  in 
search  of  her.  Sandoni's  quest  was  successful.  He 
brought  Cuzzoni  to  England  in  triumph — as  his  wife. 
Why  Sandoni  married  the  most  famous  singer  of  the  day 
is  easy  to  comprehend,  but  why  Cuzzoni  married  a 
humble  accompanist  is  a  more  difficult  problem  to  solve. 
Whatever  may  have  been  her  reasons,  she  soon  repented 
of  them.  She  led  Sandoni  a  woeful  life  for  a  few  years, 
and  then  poisoned  him.  But  this  is  to  anticipate  too 
much.  Cuzzoni  made  her  English  debut  in  Handel's 
Ottone,  which  was  produced  on  the  12th  of  January  1723. 
She  became  at  once  the  spoiled  darling  of  the  fashionable 
world,  and  retained  her  pride  of  place  until  her  great  rival 
Faustina  appeared  upon  the  scene  in  1726,  when  a 
struggle  for  supremacy  began  to  which  the  Handel- 
Bononcini  controversy  was  mere  child's  play.  Cuzzoni  was 
a   singularly   unattractive   woman.     "  She  was  short  and 


squat,"  says  Horace  Walpole,  "  with  a  cross  face,  but  fine 
complexion  ;  was  not  a  good  actress ;  dressed  ill,  and  was 
silly  and  fantastical."  Her  disposition  did  not  belie  her 
face.  She  had  the  temper  of  a  fiend,  and  was  as  obstinate 
as  a  mule.  But  in  Handel  she  met  her  match.  He 
opened  their  acquaintance  by  observing  in  his  gruffest 
tones,  "  Oh,  Madame,  je  sais  bien  que  vous  etes  une 
veritable  diablesse,  mais  je  vous  ferai  savoir,  moi,  que  je 
suis  Beelzebub,  le  chef  des  diables."  Encouraged  by  this 
greeting,  she  flatly  refused  to  sing  the  beautiful  air, 
"  Falsa  immagine,"  which  Handel  had  set  down  as  her 
opening  song,  whereupon  he  seized  her  round  the  waist 
and  threatened  to  throw  her  out  of  the  window.  Cuzzoni 
owned  herself  beaten,  sang  the  song,  and  in  a  moment  had 
London  at  her  feet.  Her  voice  must  have  been  wonder- 
ful, and  her  singing  miraculous  even  for  the  eighteenth 
century.  Burney  speaks  of  a  "  native  warble "  which 
concealed  the  consummate  art  of  her  technique.  "  Her 
shake,"  he  says,  "  was  perfect,  her  high  notes  unrivalled 
in  clearness  and  sweetness,  and  her  intonation  so  just 
that  she  seemed  incapable  of  singing  out  of  tune."  She 
charmed  alike  rich  and  poor,  high  and  low.  Mrs.  Delany 
laughed  at  her  nonsensical  tricks,  but  adored  her  singing. 
*'  This  morning,"  she  wrote,  "  I  was  entertained  with 
Cuzzoni.  Oh  !  how  charming  !  How  did  I  wish  for  all  I 
love  and  like  to  be  with  me  at  that  instant  of  time.  My 
senses  were  ravished  with  harmony."  More  epigrammatic 
and  no  less  enthusiastic  was  a  groom  in  the  gallery,  who, 
while  Cuzzoni  was  singing  a  song  in  Ottone,  cried  out, 
"  Damn  her,  she  has  got  a  nest  of  nightingales  in  her 

Cuzzoni  had  to   the   full  the  modern   prima  donna's 
talent   for   self-advertisement.     She  took  good  care  that 


the  public  should  be  kept  au  fait  with  all  her  movements. 
When  she  presented  her  husband  with  a  son  and  heir,  the 
details  of  her  confinement  were  the  talk  of  the  coffee- 
houses. Every  one  knew  that  she  went  to  bed  singing 
"  La  speranza,"  and  bothered  her  husband  into  buying  her 
a  gigantic  looking-glass  and  a  black  silk  hood.  But  in 
spite  of  her  follies  she  could  be  charming  when  she  chose. 
Lady  Bristol  met  her  at  a  party,  and  was  loud  in  her 
praises :  "  Cuzzoni  was  in  high  good  humour.  She  sent 
for  Whyburn  with  his  lute,  and  sung  for  two  hours  like  a 
nightingale.  She  has  learnt  two  English  ballads,  which 
she  makes  the  agreeablest  thing  you  ever  heard."  ^ 

The  combination  of  Handel's  music  and  Cuzzoni's  voice 
dealt  a  severe  blow  to  the  Bononcini  faction.  Now  that 
Handel  had  at  his  command  a  singer  capable  of  doing 
justice  to  his  music,  his  superiority  was  indisputable. 
In  October  1722,  Lady  Bristol  wrote  to  her  husband  : 
"  Bononcini  is  dismissed  the  theatre  for  operas,  which  I 
believe  you  and  some  of  your  family  will  regret.  The 
reason  they  give  for  it  is  his  most  extravagant  demands."^ 
Six  months  later,  Mrs.  Delany  observed :  "  The  young 
Duchess  of  Marlborough  has  settled  upon  Bononcini  for 
his  life  ^500  a  year,  provided  he  will  not  compose  any 
more  for  the  ungrateful  Academy,  who  do  not  deserve 
that  he  should  entertain  them,  since  they  don't  know  how 
to  value  his  works  as  they  ought,  and  likewise  told  him  he 
should  always  be  welcome  to  her  table."  Bononcini  took 
the  money,  but  apparently  the  quarrel  was  patched  up, 
for  he  went  on  writing  operas  for  the  Academy.  At  any 
rate  his  Farnace  and  Calfurnia  were  both  produced  after 
this  date,  but  his  star  was  on  the  decline  and  the  vogue  of 
his  music  was  over   so   far    as   the    general    public    was 

^  Letter  Book  of  John  Hervey,  Earl  of  Bristol,  vol.  ii. 


concerned,  though  the  compact  little  phalanx  of  his 
admirers  supported  him  through  thick  and  thin,  and  we 
read  of  concerts  given  by  his  patroness,  the  Duchess  of 
Marlborough,  at  which  only  his  music  was  performed. 

People  still  chattered  about  the  respective  merits  of 
the  triumvirate.  Gay  wrote  to  Swift  early  in  1723  :  "As 
for  the  reigning  amusement  of  the  town,  it  is  entirely 
music,  real  fiddles,  bass  viols  and  hautboys,  not  poetical 
harps,  lyres  and  reeds.  There's  nobody  allowed  to  say  I 
sing,  but  an  eunuch  or  an  Italian  woman.  Everybody  is 
grown  now  as  great  a  judge  of  music  as  they  were  in  your 
time  of  poetry,  and  folks  that  could  not  distinguish  one 
tune  from  another,  now  daily  dispute  about  the  different 
styles  of  Handel,  Bononcini  and  Attilio."  ^ 

About  this  time  Byrom  produced  his  celebrated  epi- 
gram, which,  familiar  as  it  is,  is  too  witty  to  be  omitted  : — 

"  Some  say,  compar'd  to  Bononcini, 
That  Mynheer  Handel's  but  a  ninny ; 
Others  aver  that  he  to  Handel', 
Is  scarcely  fit  to  hold  a  candle. 
Strange,  all  this  difference  should  be 
'Twixt  Tweedledum  and  Tweedledee  ! "  ^ 

^  Swift,  Correspondence. 

-  John  Byrom  was  a  facile  and  fluent  writer  of  verse,  and  attained  some 
degree  of  fame  by  his  invention  of  a  new  system  of  shorthand.  He  seems 
actually  to  have  written  his  famous  epigram  on  the  22nd  of  February  1725, 
according  to  his  fournal  (published  by  the  Chetham  Society),  in  which  occurs 
the  entry  :  ' '  Wrote  some  verses  to  Leycester  about  the  Opera,"  on  that  date. 
It  does  not  appear,  however,  to  have  been  widely  circulated  until  a  few 
months  later.  On  May  9  i\iQ  Journal  observes:  "Mr.  Leycester  left  my 
epigram  upon  Handel  and  Bononcini  in  shorthand  for  Jemmy  Ord  "  ;  and  on 
the  l8th  :  "  Mr.  Leycester  came  there  [to  George's  Coffee-House],  and  Bob 
Ord,  who  was  come  home  from  Cambridge,  where  he  said  he  had  made  the 
whole  Hall  laugh  at  Trinity  College,  and  got  himself  honour  by  my  epigram 
upon  Handel  and  Bononcini."  By  June  5  it  had  found  its  way  into  the 


Meanwhile,  Handel  continued  his  triumphant  career  with 
Flavio  (14th  May  1723),  but  his  singers  still  gave  him  a 
good  deal  of  trouble.  Cuzzoni  was  by  no  means  the  only 
offender.  For  a  quite  insignificant  part  in  Flavio  he 
engaged  a  young  English  singer  named  Gordon,  who 
seems  to  have  entertained  an  uncommonly  good  opinion 
of  his  own  musicianship.  At  any  rate,  one  day  when 
Handel  was  rehearsing  with  him  the  one  song  allotted  to 
him  in  the  opera,  "  Fato  tiranno,"  he  had  the  impertinence 
to  criticise  the  composer's  method  of  accompanying. 
This  was  more  than  Handel  could  put  up  with,  and  in 
a  vigorous  mixture  of  half  a  dozen  languages  he  told 
Gordon  to  mind  his  own  business.  A  quarrel  ensued,  and 
Gordon  finished  by  declaring  that  if  Handel  persisted  in 
accompanying  him  in  that  manner  he  would  jump  upon 
his  harpsichord  and  smash  it  to  pieces.  "  Oh,"  replied 
Handel,  "let  me  know  when  you  will  do  that,  and  I  will 
advertise  it ;  for  I  am  sure  more  people  will  come  to  see 
you  jump,  than  to  hear  you  sing."  Giulio  Cesare  (20th 
February  1724)  was  one  of  Handel's  most  brilliant 
masterpieces,  in  which  Senesino's  declamation  of  the 
accompanied  recitative  "  Alma  del  gran  Pompeo "  was 
the  talk  of  the  town.  Senesino  won  less  honourable 
notoriety  shortly  afterwards  by  a  quarrel  with  Anastasia 
Robinson,  which  ended  in  his  being  publicly  horse- 
whipped by  Lord  Peterborough ;  and  London  had 
another  hearty  laugh  over  his  abject  plight  one  evening 
at  the  theatre  when,  as  he  was  thundering  out  the  words 
"  Caesar  has  no  fear,"  a  piece  of  the  scenery  fell  from  the 
flies  upon  the  stage,  which  so  terrified  the  poor  little  hero 
that  he  fell  upon  the  boards  and  burst  into  a  piteous  flood 
of  tears.  People  ridiculed  the  follies  and  vanities  of  the 
singers,   but  the  worship   of  everything  connected  with 


opera  still  continued,  in  spite  of  the  protests  of  old- 
fashioned  critics,  who  denounced  the  degradation  of 
English  society  in  no  measured  terms. 

But  we  must  hasten  over  the  next  few  years,  which 
saw  the  production  of  Handel's  Taniedano  (31st  October 
1724),  Rodelinda  (13th  February  1725),  and  Scipio  (12th 
March  1726).  All  three  operas  were  successful,  and 
provided  triumphs  for  Cuzzoni  and  Senesino.  For 
Tamei'lano  Handel's  company  was  strengthened  by  the 
arrival  in  England  of  Borosini,  of  whom  Mist's  Weekly 
Jout'nal  humorously  observed  :  "  It  is  commonly  reported 
this  gentleman  was  never  cut  out  for  a  singer."  He  was, 
in  fact,  a  tenor,  and  during  his  stay  in  England  Handel 
wrote  several  important  parts  for  him — contrary  to  the 
taste  of  the  time,  which  favoured  only  soprani  and 
contralti,  with  an  occasional  exception  in  favour  of  a  bass. 
In  Rodelinda,  Cuzzoni's  triumph  was  not  only  vocal,  for 
the  brown  silk  gown  trimmed  with  silver  in  which  she 
played  the  part  of  the  heroine  became  the  rage,  and  set 
the  fashion  for  the  season.  Rodelinda  was  one  of  Handel's 
most  popular  operas.  Byrom  refers  to  it  in  some  stanzas 
addressed  to  an  opera-loving  friend : — 

"Dear  Peter,  if  thou  canst  descend 
From  Rodelind  to  hear  a  friend, 
And  if  those  ravished  ears  of  thine 
Can  quit  the  shrill  celestial  whine 
Of  gentle  eunuchs,  and  sustain 
Thy  native  English  without  pain, 
I  would,  if  'tain't  too  great  a  burden 
Thy  ravished  ears  intrude  a  word  in."^ 

But  in  spite  of  individual    successes   the   affairs   of  the 
Academy  were  not  prospering,  and  the  directors  deter- 

'  Byrom,  Letter  to  R.  L.,  Esq. 


mined  upon  a  magnificently  audacious  coup.  They 
engaged  Faustina  Bordoni,  Cuzzoni's  only  serious  rival, 
and  commissioned  Handel  to  write  an  opera  in  which  the 
two  prima  donnas  were  to  appear  together  upon  pre- 
cisely equal  terms.  The  task  was  one  of  extreme  difficulty, 
but  Handel  undertook  it  with  alacrity.  He  was  in 
excellent  spirits  just  then.  He  had  become  a  naturalised 
Englishman  on  the  13th  of  February  1726,  and  the  King 
had  immediately  appointed  him  Composer  to  the  Chapel 
Royal  ^  and  Composer  to  the  Court,  offices  which  could 
only  be  held  by  British  subjects.  Bononcini  seemed  at 
last  to  be  utterly  crushed ;  and  Handel  felt  powerful 
enough  to  face  unmoved  even  the  wrath  of  two  jealous 
prima  donnas. 

^  This  appointment  seems  to  have  been  purely  honorary,  and  had  nothing 
to  do  with  the  post  of  organist,  which  was  held  by  Dr.  Greene. 


IF  music  has  power  to  charm  the  savage  breast,  it 
can  also  at  times  excite  well-behaved  and  well- 
educated  people  to  excesses  of  savagery  that  would 
disgrace  a  troglodyte.  In  the  history  of  music  there 
are  many  famous  quarrels,  but  none  ever  surpassed  in 
violence  and  acrimony  the  historic  feud  between  Faustina 
and  Cuzzoni  and  their  respective  partisans.  Cuzzoni 
had  the  advantage  of  being  first  in  the  field,  but  though 
her  magnificent  singing  had  won  her  many  supporters 
during  the  three  years  for  which  she  had  adorned  the 
London  stage,  she  had  estranged  many  of  them  by  her 
vanity  and  ill  temper,  and  the  engagement  of  Faustina 
was  no  doubt  partly  intended  to  bring  Cuzzoni  to  a 
proper  sense  of  her  position.  In  Alessandro  (5th  May 
1726)  the  two  great  singers  appeared  side  by  side. 
Handel  and  his  librettist  had  worked  so  cleverly  together 
that  neither  artist  had  anything  to  complain  of  They 
sang  song  for  song  throughout  the  opera.  Each  of  them 
sang  a  duet  with  Senesino,  and  they  had  one  duet 
together  which  was  so  skilfully  composed  that  neither 
of  them  could  say  which  was  singing  the  principal 

The  applause  was  equally  divided,  and  the  audience 

Ilil^liilJIlMllllipiiillllJ  LpppipjJ 

'iUHl |llll|||i||ji||i||||ill'        I  |ri  I.  hi,  I. Ill, Ml  .il.l.aJt^^^lJIlllliiilillrrllUnillllllllllilllia 



left  the  theatre  discussing  the  all  -  important  question 
whether  Cuzzoni  or  Faustina  was  the  greater  artist.  In 
a  few  days  every  tea-table  in  London  was  ringing  with 
the  same  question.  The  Handel-Bononcini  controversy 
was  forgotten  in  the  rivalry  of  the  two  prima  donnas. 
If  any  one  had  imagined  that  the  arrival  of  Faustina 
was  going  to  resolve  the  discords  of  the  musical  world 
he  was  sadly  mistaken.  She  came  bringing  not  peace 
but  a  sword.  London  seemed  to  divide  in  a  moment 
into  two  parties.  There  was  no  middle  course.  Every 
one  had  to  be  on  one  side  or  the  other,  Cuzzoni's  chief 
backer  was  Lady  Pembroke,  and  the  leader  of  the 
Faustina  faction  was  Dorothy,  Lady  Burlington,  the 
young  wife  of  Handel's  patron.  Lady  Walpole,  who 
must  have  been  almost  as  good  a  diplomatist  as  her 
husband,  was  one  of  the  few  who  contrived  to  keep  on 
good  terms  with  both  sides.  Faustina  and  Cuzzoni 
actually  met  under  her  roof,  but  neither  would  consent 
to  sing  in  the  presence  of  the  other.  At  last,  by  a  lucky 
inspiration.  Lady  Walpole  contrived  to  smuggle  Faustina 
into  an  adjoining  room,  under  the  pretext  of  show- 
ing her  some  china,  and  while  her  back  was  turned, 
Cuzzoni,  who  fancied  that  her  rival  had  fled,  was 
induced  to  sing.  Later  in  the  evening  a  similar  piece  of 
diplomacy  extracted  a  song  from  Faustina.  Meanwhile 
the  newspapers  had  taken  up  the  controversy,  and 
lampoons  fanned  the  flame  of  faction.  Doggerel  verses 
were  passed  from  hand  to  hand,  of  which  the  following 
is  a  specimen  : — 

"  At  Leicester  Fields  I  give  my  vote 
For  the  fine-piped  Cuzzoni  ; 
At  Burlington's  I  change  my  note, 
Faustina  for  my  money. 

loo  HANDEL 

Attilio's  music  I  despise, 

For  none  can  please  like  Handel, 

But  the  disputes  which  hence  arise, 
I  wish  and  hope  may  end  well."^ 

As  a  rule,  the  controversialists  were  not  so  amiable  as 
this  anonymous  poet.  Many  of  them,  in  the  good  old- 
fashioned  seventeenth-century  style,  turned  to  the  private 
lives  of  the  singers,  and  aspersions  upon  the  morality  of 
the  fair  rivals  were  openly  circulated,  so  gross  in  language 
and  suggestion  that  respectable  newspapers  refused  to 
publish  them.  It  was  not  the  fashion  just  then  to  be 
mealy-mouthed,  and  the  freedom  of  thought  and  expres- 
sion displayed  in  "  An  Epistle   from  Signora  F a  to 

a  Lady,"  to  take  but  one  instance,  raises  a  mild  curiosity 
as  to  what  the  poems  can  have  been  like  which  the 
virtuous  British  J ourfial  considered  too  outspoken  for  its 
chaste  pages. 

Handel's  Admeto,  which  was  produced  on  the  31st 
of  January  1727,  raised  the  excitement  to  fever  heat. 
Both  ladies  had  good  parts  in  the  new  opera,  and  their 
respective  admirers  seized  the  opportunity  not  only  of 
acclaiming  their  own  favourite,  but  of  trying  to  drown 
the  applause  of  the  opposite  faction.  The  production 
of  Bononcini's  Astyanax  on  the  6th  of  May  brought 
matters  to  a  head.  Both  parties  turned  up  in  force,  and 
Cuzzoni's  first  song  was  a  signal  for  the  tumult  to 
begin.  The  poor  woman's  voice  was  drowned  by  hisses, 
groans  and  cat-calls.  However,  she  had  been  warned 
of  what  was  going  to  happen,  and  stood  her  ground 
manfully.  When  Faustina's  turn  came,  the  Cuzzonites 
had  their  revenge.  The  theatre  was  turned  into  a  bear- 
garden, and  the  fine   flower  of  English  society  behaved 

^  Historical  MSS.  Commissioti,  Report  xii.  Appendix,  pt.  9. 


like  a  parcel  of  drunken  pot-boys  at  Greenwich  Fair. 
The  presence  of  the  Princess  Amelia  was  no  check  on 
the  disorder,  and  the  evening  ended  in  riot  and  con- 
fusion. Lady  Pembroke,  the  leader  of  the  Cuzzonites, 
seems  to  have  realised  that  she  and  her  party  had  let 
their  feelings  carry  them  rather  too  far.  There  is  an 
interesting  letter  extant  from  her  to  Mrs.  Clayton, 
afterwards  Lady  Sundon,  who  was  Mistress  of  the 
Robes  to  the  Princess  of  Wales,  entreating  that  amiable 
person  to  explain  the  state  of  affairs  to  the  Princess, 
who  presumably  was  vexed  at  her  daughter's  having 
been  treated  with  so  little  respect: — 

"  Dear  Madam,"  the  letter  runs, — "  I  hope  you  will 
forgive  the  trouble  I  am  going  to  give  you,  having 
always  found  you  on  every  occasion  most  obliging. 
What  I  have  to  desire  is,  that  if  you  find  a  convenient 
opportunity,^  I  wish  you  would  be  so  good  as  to  tell 
Her  Royal  Highness  that  every  one  who  wishes  well  to 
Cuzzoni  is  in  the  utmost  concern  for  what  happened 
last  Tuesday  at  the  Opera  in  the  Princess  Amelia's 
presence ;  but  to  show  their  innocence  of  the  disrespect 
which  was  shown  to  Her  Highness,  I  beg  you  will  do 
them  the  justice  to  say  that  the  Cuzzoni  had  been 
publicly  told,  to  complete  her  disgrace,  she  was  to  be 
hissed  off  the  stage  on  Tuesday.  She  was  in  such 
concern  at  this  that  she  had  a  great  mind  not  to  sing, 
but  I,  without  knowing  anything  that  the  Princess 
Amelia  would  honour  the  Opera  with  her  presence, 
positively  ordered  her  not  to  quit  the  stage,  but  let 
them  do  what  they  would — though  not  heard,  to  sing 
on,  and  not  to  go  off  till  it  was  proper ;  and  she  owns 
now  that  if  she  had  not  had  that  order  she  would  have 


quitted  the  stage  when  they  cat-called  her  to  such  a 
degree  in  one  song  that  she  was  not  heard  one  note, 
which  provoked  the  people  that  like  her  so  much  that 
they  were  not  able  to  get  the  better  of  their  resentment, 
but  would  not  suffer  the  Faustina  to  speak  afterwards. 
I  hope  Her  Royal  Highness  would  not  disapprove  of 
any  one  preventing  the  Cuzzoni's  being  hissed  off  the 
stage ;  but  I  am  in  great  concern  they  did  not  suffer 
anything  to  have  happened  to  her,  rather  than  to  have 
failed  in  the  high  respect  every  one  ought  to  pay  to  a 
Princess  of  Her  Royal  Highness's  family;  but  as  they 
were  not  the  aggressors,  I  hope  that  may  in  some 
measure  excuse  them."^ 

After  this  outburst  the  subscribers  seemed  to  have 
been  somewhat  ashamed  of  themselves,  but  the  close 
of  the  season  on  the  6th  of  June  was  marked  by  even 
more  scandalous  disturbances.  This  time  the  Princess  of 
Wales  herself  was  in  the  theatre,  but  nothing  could 
check  the  insanity  of  the  audience.  The  climax  of  the 
entertainment  on  this  occasion  was  a  personal  encounter 
between  Faustina  and  Cuzzoni,  who,  roused  to  fury  by 
the  excesses  of  their  partisans,  threw  decency  to  the 
winds  and  attacked  each  other  tooth  and  nail.  Arbuthnot 
seized  the  opportunity  of  making  bitter  fun  of  the  singers 
and  their  followers  in  The  Devil  to  pay  at  St.  James's? 
After  describing  how  "  the  two  Singing  Ladies  pulled  each 
other's  Coifs  "  and  scolded  each  other  "  like  Billingsgates," 
he  went  on  to  make  a  severely  practical  suggestion.     "  In 

^  Memoirs  of  Viscountess  Sitndon,  vol.  i. 

-  Arbuthnot's  latest  biographer,  Mr.  G.  A.  Aitken,  denies  his  authorship 
of  this  pamphlet,  which,  however,  appears  in  the  collected  edition  of  his 


the  meantime,  I  humbly  propose  that  since  these  Ladies 
are  not  to  be  reconciled  by  any  other  gentle  Means,  'tis 
best  that  they  should  fight  it  out  at  Figg's  or  Stoke's 
Amphitheatre ;  that  a  subscription  be  opened  for  that 
purpose,  and  the  best  woman  have  the  whole  house."  ^ 
The  Homeric  contest  of  the  two  singers  naturally  fired 
the  doggerel  poets  to  further  efforts,  but  their  epigrams 

^  Figg  was  a  well-known  prize-fighter,  who  taught  boxing  to  the  gilded 
youth  of  the  day  at  an  "academy"  in  the  fields  to  the  north  of  Oxford 
Street.  He  is  immortalised  by  Hogarth  in  his  Rakers  Progress^  and  by  Pope 
in  one  of  his  satires  : — 

"  See,  where  the  British  youth,  engaged  no  more 
At  Figg's  or  White's  with  felons  or  a  w e  ! " 

Byrom,    too,    wrote  an   amusing  set   of  verses   on   one   of  Figg's   historic 
encounters,  beginning — 

"  Long  was  the  great  Figg  by  the  prize-fighting  swains 
Sole  n^onarch  acknowledged  of  Marybone  Plains." 

As  to  the  notion  of  a  feminine  prize-fight,  there  was  nothing  in  that  to 
shock  or  even  to  surprise  an  eighteenth-century  public.  Contests  of  this 
sort  were,  if  not  an  everyday  occurrence,  at  any  rate  by  no  means  uncommon. 
Cesar  de  Saussure,  who  was  in  London  in  1727,  gives  an  elaborate  and 
rather  blood-curdling  account  of  a  prize-fight  between  two  women,  which 
evidently  he  thoroughly  enjoyed,  though  he  adds :  "  I  consider  that  cock- 
fights are  much  more  diverting."  But  at  that  time  women  took  a  far  more 
prominent  share  in  what  are  usually  called  "manly"  exercises  than  is  con- 
sidered correct  even  in  these  days  of  golf  and  hockey.  "  I  am  told,"  writes 
Saussure,  "that  in  Kew  Green  women  and  girls,  scantily  clothed,  run  races, 
the  smock  being  the  prize,  hence  the  appellation  'smock  runs.'"  (Saussure, 
England  in  the  Reigns  of  George  i  and  George  11. )  Even  in  the  depths  of 
the  country  the  same  sports  were  practised.  The  vivacious  Mrs.  Bradshaw 
writes  from  Cheshire  to  her  friend  Mrs.  Howard  :  "My  lady  Mohun  and  I 
have  our  rural  pleasures  too.  The  Colonel  gave  a  smock  for  the  young 
wenches  to  run  for.  The  pleasure  of  the  day  ended  with  a  prison  base  ;  all 
the  swains  from  the  two  neighbouring  towns  performed  feats  of  activity,  and 
ran  against  one  another  with  little  more  than  a  fig  leaf  for  their  clothing, 
and  we,  being  in  a  state  of  innocence,  were  not  ashamed  to  show  our  faces." 
{Stiffolk  Correspondence,  1722.) 

104  HANDEL 

are  scarcely  worth  the  trouble  of  transcribing.     This   is 
perhaps  the  best  of  them  : — 

"  Old  poets  sing  that  beasts  did  dance 
Whenever  Orpheus  played ; 
So  to  Faustina's  charming  voice 
Wise  Pembroke's  asses  brayed." 

But  for  the  moment  the  opera  scandal  was  thrust  into 
the  background  by  events  of  wider  importance.  On 
nth  June,  King  George  I  died  suddenly  at  Osnabriick, 
struck  to  the  heart,  it  was  whispered,  by  a  warning  of 
approaching  doom  sent  to  him  by  his  injured  and 
neglected  wife,  Sophia  Dorothea,  whom  he  had  kept  in 
close  confinement  for  years  in  the  fortress  of  Ahlden,  to 
expiate  her  supposed  adultery  with  Count  Konigsmark. 
Other  authorities  attribute  his  death  to  a  surfeit  of  water- 
melons. The  news  reached  England  on  the  14th,  and 
on  the  following  day  George  II  was  proclaimed  King. 
The  new  King  continued  the  pension  already  allotted  to 
Handel  by  Anne  and  George  I,  and  added  a  further 
pension  of  ;^200  in  consideration  of  the  composer's 
services  as  music  master  to  the  Princesses  Amelia  and 
Caroline.  It  is  doubtful  whether  any  salary  was  attached 
to  the  offices  of  Composer  to  the  Court  and  to  the  Chapel 
Royal,  which  George  I  had  conferred  upon  him  when 
he  became  naturalised ;  and  the  latter  at  any  rate  he 
seems  to  have  shared  with  Maurice  Greene,  who  used  to 
blow  the  organ  at  St.  Paul's  for  him  in  the  old  Burlington 
House  days,  but  had  now  gone  over  to  the  Bononcini 
faction.  It  was  probably  in  virtue  of  the  former  appoint- 
ment that  Handel  wrote  the  minuets  which  were  performed 
at  the  court  ball  on  the  30th  of  October  1727,  and 
composed    the    magnificent    series    of    anthems   for   the 


King's  coronation  on  the  nth  of  October  which,  as 
Rockstro  justly  says,  have  made  that  event  a  landmark  in 
the  history  of  music.  Handel  had  a  tussle  with  the  Arch- 
bishops of  Canterbury  and  York  over  the  selection  of 
words  for  these  anthems.  The  worthy  prelates  had  their 
own  ideas  upon  the  subject,  and  wanted  to  dictate  to 
Handel  what  words  he  should  set.  But  it  needed  more 
than  a  couple  of  archbishops  to  browbeat  Handel  into 
submission.  "  I  have  read  my  Bible  very  well,"  he  cried, 
"  and  shall  choose  for  myself."  And  so  he  did,  and  with 
excellent  results,  for  his  anthems  strike  just  the  right 
note  of  regal  splendour  and  magnificence,  and  seem  to 
sparkle  with  the  glitter  of  the  gleaming  pageant  Saussure, 
who  gives  one  of  the  best  extant  descriptions  of  the 
coronation,  was'  evidently  much  impressed  by  them, 
though  anything  but  an  expert.  "  During  the  whole 
ceremony,"  he  writes,  "  a  band  of  the  most  skilful  musicians, 
together  with  the  finest  voices  in  England,  sung  admirable 
symphonies,  conducted  by  the  celebrated  Mr.  Handel,  who 
had  composed  the  Litany." 

The  King's  Theatre  opened  again  on  nth  November 
with  a  new  opera  by  Handel,  Riccardo  Prima,  Re 
d'Inghilterra,  but  the  days  of  the  Royal  Academy  were 
numbered.  The  scandals  of  the  previous  season  had 
alienated  the  sympathies  of  all  respectable  people.  Old 
subscribers  fell  off,  and  no  new  ones  were  forthcoming. 
It  was  hoped  that  Riccardo  would  draw  the  town  by 
reason  of  its  popular  and  patriotic  subject,  but  the  houses 
were  poor.  Mrs.  Delany  thought  it  "  delightful,"  but  she 
was  compelled  to  add :  "  I  doubt  operas  will  not  survive 
longer  than  this  winter.  They  are  now  at  their  last 
gasp ;  the  subscription  is  expired,  and  nobody  will  renew 
it.     The  directors  are  always  squabbling,  and  they  have 

io6  HANDEL 

so  many  divisions  among  themselves  that  I  wonder  they 
have  not  broke  up  before."  ^ 

More  disastrous  to  the  Academy  even  than  its  own 
internal  dissensions  was  the  rivalry  of  The  Beggar's  Opera, 
which  had  been  produced  early  in  1727  at  the  Little 
Theatre  in  Lincoln's  Inn  Fields,  and  at  once  took  London 
by  storm.  Every  one  was  laughing  at  Gay's  jests,  coarse 
as  they  often  were,  and  humming  the  charming  old  folk- 
songs so  cleverly  arranged  by  Dr.  Pepusch.  In  vain 
Arbuthnot  thundered  against  the  degradation  of  popular 
taste,  in  vain  Carey  scarified  the  "  Newgate  Pastoral," 
as  Swift  called  it,  with  ridicule.  The  beauty  of  the 
music  and  the  freshness  of  the  libretto  won  all  hearts. 
Even  Mrs.  Delany,  who  deplored  the  empty  houses  in 
the  Haymarket,  and  declared  that  "  The  English  have 
no  real  taste  for  music,  or  they  could  not  neglect  an 
entertainment  so  perfect  in  its  kind  for  a  parcel  of  ballad 
singers,"  had  to  admit  that  The  Beggar s  Opera  was  very 
"  comical  and  full  of  humour." 

Gay  wrote  to  Swift  with  ill-disguised  triumph :  "  The 
outlandish  (as  they  call  it)  opera  hath  been  so  thin  of 
late  that  some  have  called  that  The  Beggars  Opera ;  and 
if  the  run  continues,  I  fear,  I  shall  have  a  remonstrance 
drawn  up  against  me  by  the  Royal  Academy  of  Music." 
A  month  later  he  added  :  "  The  Beggar  s  Opera  hath  been 
acted  now  thirty-six  times,  and  was  as  full  the  last  night 
as  the  first ;  and  as  yet  there  is  not  the  least  probability 
of  a  thin  audience,  though  there  is  a  discourse  about  the 
town  that  the  doctors  of  the  Royal  Academy  of  Music 
design  to  solicit  against  it  being  played  on  the  outlandish 
opera  days." 

The  falling  fortunes  of  the  Academy  roused  its  enemies 

^  Delany,  Correspondence,  vol.  i. 


to  fresh  efforts.  Hostile  pamphleteers  launched  anony- 
mous pasquinades  against  Handel  and  his  music.  The 
hand  of  Bononcini  is  plainly  to  be  traced  in  Advice  to 
the  Composers  and  Performers  of  Vocal  Mustek,  which 
was  published  in  Italian  and  English  in  1727,  with  its 
spiteful  references  to  composers  who  "overcharge  and 
encumber  the  composition  with  too  many  symphonies." 

Handel  alone  was  not  to  be  cowed  by  the  imminence 
of  disaster.  He  stood  to  his  guns  manfully,  and  produced 
opera  after  opera  in  rapid  succession.  Riccardo  was 
followed  by  Siroe  (5th  February  1728),  and  Siroe  by 
Tolomeo  (19th  April  1728),  but  all  in  vain.  Tolonieo  was 
only  performed  seven  times,  and  on  the  1st  of  June  the 
season  came  to  an  abrupt  termination.  The  original 
;;^50,ooo  was  all  spent,  and  there  was  no  prospect  of 
raising  any  more,  so  there  was  nothing  to  be  done  but 
to  disband  the  company  and  close  the  doors  of  the 

HANDEL  AS  MANAGER,  1728-1732 

THE  collapse  of  the  Royal  Academy  of  Music  was 
very  far  from  destroying  Handel's  belief  in  the 
future  of  Italian  opera  in  England.  Probably  he  felt 
that  the  affairs  of  the  Academy  had  been  mismanaged, 
as  indeed  was  almost  inevitable  when  the  broth  was 
committed  to  the  care  of  such  an  army  of  cooks,  and  he 
fancied  that  in  proper  hands  opera  might  yet  be  a  paying 
concern.  At  any  rate  he  was  ready  to  back  his  belief  to 
the  extent  of  his  own  savings,  which  were  said  to  amount 
to  ten  thousand  pounds.  He  joined  forces  with  his  old 
friend  Heidegger,  and  took  the  King's  Theatre.  A 
partnership  of  five  years  was  agreed  upon,  and  the  first 
season  was  to  include  fifty  performances  at  a  subscription 
of  fifteen  guineas  a  ticket.  The  enterprise  was  under  the 
special  patronage  of  Handel's  old  pupil,  the  Princess 
Royal.^  Heidegger  seems  to  have  started  operations  by 
hastening  abroad  in  search  of  new  singers,  but  his  efforts 
were  unsuccessful,  and  he  soon  resigned  the  task  of 
choosing  a  company  to  his  partner.  Handel  probably 
left  England  in  the  autumn  of  1728,  and  went  straight  to 
Italy,  postponing  his  visit  to  his  aged  mother  at  Halle 
until  his  return  journey.     He   went   the  round  of  Italy, 

^  Shaftesbury  Biographical  Sketch. 


visiting  in  turn  Rome,  Milan,  Venice,  and  other  important 
musical  centres,  and  hearing  all  the  newest  works  of  the 
newest  composers.  Handel's  previous  biographers  are 
practically  unanimous  in  stating  that  he  made  this 
journey  in  the  company  of  his  old  friend  Steffani, 
regardless  of  the  fact  that  the  latter  had  breathed  his 
last  at  Frankfort  on  the  12th  of  February  1728.^  At 
Rome  Handel  renewed  his  friendship  with  the  hospitable 
Cardinal  Ottoboni,  and  doubtless  once  more  took  part  in 
his  famous  Wednesday  performances  of  chamber  music. 

He  also  encountered  another  old  friend,  Cardinal 
Colonna,  at  whose  house  many  years  before,  as  the  reader 
will  remember,  he  played  duets  with  a  juvenile  prodigy. 
Colonna  seems  to  have  endeavoured  to  bring  about  a 
meeting  between  Handel  and  the  Chevalier  de  St.  George, 
who  was  at  that  time  resident  in  Rome,  and  was  devoted 
to  music,  but  Handel  was  wise  enough  not  to  prejudice 
his  credit  at  the  Hanoverian  court  by  dallying  with  the 
Pretender.  Handel's  movements  were  followed  with 
considerable  interest  by  his  English  friends,  and  the 
musical  world  of  London  seems  to  have  regarded  his 
Italian  tour  as  almost  of  national  importance.  Sir  Lionel 
Pilkington  wrote  to  a  friend  in  April  1729:  "  Handel  is 
doing  his  endeavour  in  Italy  to  procure  singers,  and  I 
fancy  his  journey  will  be  of  more  effect  than  Heidegger's ; 
but  I'm  told  Senesino  is  playing  an  ungrateful  part  to 
his  friends  in  England,  by  abusing  'em  behind  their  backs, 
and  saying  he'll  come  no  more  among  'em."^  Abroad, 
too,  all  kinds  of  absurd  rumours  were  circulated  as  to 
the  methods  employed  by  English    managers    to  secure 

1  Woker,   "Agostino  Steffani."     {Vereinsschrift  der  Gorres-Geselhchaft, 

^  Hist.  MSS.  Commission,  35. 


Italian  singers.  Mattheson,  who  was  always  glad  to  do 
Handel  a  bad  turn,  though  in  this  case  he  did  not 
mention  him  by  name,  gave  a  currency  to  a  ridiculous 
story  about  a  nun  with  a  wonderful  voice  having  been 
abducted  from  a  Milanese  convent  by  emissaries  of  a 
London  impresario.^  Senesino  doubtless  did  all  that  he 
could  to  enhance  his  own  value,  but  Handel  was  tired  of 
his  conceit  and  impertinence,  and  made  up  his  mind  to 
try  to  get  on  without  him.  In  his  stead  he  engaged 
another  artificial  soprano,  Bernacchi ;  and  his  new  prima 
donna  was  Signora  Strada  del  P6,  whom  Burney 
describes  as  "  a  coarse  singer  with  a  fine  voice,"  though  it 
is  evident,  from  the  music  that  Handel  wrote  for  her,  that 
she  was  already  mistress  of  a  brilliant  technique.  Strange 
as  it  seems  to  us,  who  live  in  an  age  of  tenor-worship, 
nobody  in  the  eighteenth  century  cared  a  jot  about  tenors 
compared  with  the  all-conquering  castrati.  However, 
Handel,  who  was  nothing  if  not  enterprising,  determined 
to  strike  out  upon  a  new  line,  and  engaged  the  best  tenor 
of  the  age,  Annibale  Fabri,  together  with  his  wife,  who 
excelled  in  male  parts.  In  March  1729  Handel  was  in 
Venice,  whence  he  wrote  to  his  brother-in-law,  Dr. 
Michaelsen,  promising  to  visit  Halle  on  his  way  home.  A 
little  later,  he  received  distressing  news  of  his  mother's 
health.  He  hastened  to  Halle  to  find  her  stricken  with 
paralysis  and  totally  blind,  but  still  able  to  move  about 
the  house.  He  stayed  with  her  as  long  as  he  could,  even 
declining  an  invitation  to  meet  Bach  at  Leipzig,  so  that 
she  might  not  lose  a  day  of  his  society,  and  finally  bidding 
her  farewell  in  the  middle  of  June  1729.  She  lingered 
until  the  close  of  the  following  year,  dying  in  her 
eightieth  year  in  all  peace  and  honour,  but  he  never  saw 

1  Mattheson,  ]\Iusikalischer  Patriot. 


her  again.  On  his  way  home  Handel  passed  through 
Hanover,  and  renewed  memories  of  his  youth  by  paying 
a  visit  to  Hamburg,  where  he  engaged  the  bass  singer 
Riemschneider.  Handel  reached  London  on  the  ist 
July  and  his  new  singers  arrived  in  September,  but  the 
season  did  not  actually  begin  until  the  2nd  of  December, 
when  Handel's  Lotario  was  produced.  London  had  been 
deprived  of  opera  for  eighteen  months,  and  excitement 
ran  high  with  regard  to  the  new  "  Academy,"  as  it  was 
called.  Everybody  was-  talking  about  the  new  artists, 
and  the  privileged  few  who  were  admitted  to  the  re- 
hearsals had  a  great  deal  to  say  about  their  merits  and 
defects,  Mrs,  Delany,  who  was  one  of  these,  wrote  an 
elaborate  account  of  them  to  a  musical  friend : 
"  Bernacchi  has  a  vast  compass,  his  voice  mellow  and 
clear,  but  not  so  sweet  as  Senesino,  his  manner  better, 
his  person  not  so  good,  for  he  is  as  big  as  a  Spanish 
friar.  Fabri  has  a  tenor  voice,  sweet,  clear,  and  firm,  but 
not  strong  enough,  I  doubt,  for  the  stage.  He  sings 
like  a  gentleman,  without  making  faces,  and  his  manner 
is  particularly  agreeable.  He  is  the  greatest  master  of 
music  that  ever  sang  upon  the  stage.  The  third  is  the 
bass,  a  very  good  distinct  voice,  without  any  harshness. 
La  Strada  is  the  first  woman ;  her  voice  is  without 
exception  fine,  her  manner  perfection,  but  her  person 
very  bad,  and  she  makes  frightful  mouths.^  La  Merighi 
is  the  next  to  her;  her  voice  is  not  extraordinarily  good 
or  bad.  She  is  tall,  and  has  a  very  graceful  person  with 
a  tolerable  face.  She  seems  to  be  a  woman  about  forty  ; 
she  sings  easily  and  agreeably.  The  last  is  Bertolli ;  she 
has  neither  voice,  ear,  or  manner  to  recommend  her  ;  but 

^  Burney  says  of  her  :  "  She  had  so  little  of  a  Venus  in  her  appearance, 
that  she  was  usually  called  "The  Pig." 

1 1 2  HANDEL 

she  is  a  perfect  beauty,  quite  a  Cleopatra,  that  sort  of 
complexion  with  regular  features,  fine  teeth,  and  when 
she  sings  has  a  smile  about  her  mouth,  which  is 
extremely  pretty,  and  I  believe  has  practised  to  sing 
before  a  glass,  for  she  has  never  any  distortion  in  her 
face."  Lotario  was  not  a  success.  Even  so  staunch  a 
Handelian  as  Mrs.  Delany  did  not  altogether  approve  of 
it.  "  I  never  was  so  little  pleased  with  one  of  Mr. 
Handel's  operas  in  my  life,"  she  wrote.  But  she  would 
not  allow  other  people  to  criticise  it.  "  The  opera  is  too 
good  for  the  vile  taste  of  the  town,"  she  continued.  "  It 
is  disliked  because  it  is  too  much  studied,  and  they  love 
nothing  but  minuets  and  ballads;  in  short,  the  Beggars 
Opera  and  HurlotJirumbo  are  only  worthy  of  applause." 
The  Beggars  Opet'a  was  by  this  time  a  very  old  story, 
and  none  of  its  numerous  sequels  and  imitations  had  won 
a  tithe  of  its  success.  Gay,  or  rather  his  patroness,  the 
Duchess  of  Queensberry,  had  got  into  trouble  over  Polly ^ 
a  continuation  of  The  Beggar's  Opera,  the  production  of 
which  had  been  forbidden  by  the  Lord  Chamberlain. 
Like  our  muzzled  dramatists  of  to-day,  Gay  thought  to 
shame  the  censor  by  publishing  his  play,  and  the  Duchess 
was  so  strenuous  a  canvasser,  urging  everybody  she  met 
to  subscribe  for  a  copy,  even  under  the  very  nose  of  the 
King,  that  at  last  he  forbade  her  to  appear  at  Court. 
Hurlothrumbo  was  a  spectacular  piece  by  a  dramatist 
named  Samuel  Johnson,  which  was  produced  in  April 
1729,  and  for  many  months  drew  all  London  to  Lincoln's 
Inn  Fields.  Byrom,  the  author  of  the  famous  Handel- 
Bononcini  epigram,  gives  an  amusing  account  of  the  first 
night  in  a  letter  to  his  wife :  "  As  for  Mr.  Johnson,  he  is 
at  present  one  of  the  chief  topics  of  talk  in  London. 
Dick's    Coffee- House   resounds   Hurlothrumbo   from    one 


end  to  the  other.  He  had  a  full  house  and  much  good 
company  on  Saturday  night,  the  first  time  of  acting ;  and 
report  says  all  the  boxes  are  taken  for  next  Monday,  and 
the  quality,  they  say,  expect  an  epilogue  next  time  (there 

being  none  last)    from    Mr.  B .     It  is   impossible  to 

describe  this  play  and  the  oddities,  out-of-the-waynesses, 
flights,  madness,  nonsense,  comicalities,  etc.,  but  I  hope 
Johnson  will  make  his  fortune  by  it  for  the  present.  We 
had  seven  or  eight  Garters,  they  say,  in  the  pit;  I  saw 
Lord  Oxford  and  one  or  two  more  there,  but  was  so 
intent  upon  the  farce  that  I  did  not  observe  many  quality 
that  were  there.  We  agreed  to  laugh  and  clap  beforehand, 
and  kept  our  word  from  beginning  to  end.  The  night 
after,  Johnson  came  to  Dick's,  and  they  all  got  about  him 
like  so  many  bees.  They  say  the  Prince  has  been  told 
of  Hui'Iothruinbo,  and  will  come  and  see  it.  ...  I  shall 
get  Johnson  to  vary  some  passages  in  it,  if  I  can,  that 
from  anybody  but  himself  would  make  it  an  entertainment 
not  quite  so  proper  for  the  ladies,  and  I  would  have  our 
ladies  here  see  it  because  they  know  the  man.  For  my 
part,  who  think  all  stage  entertainments  stuff  and 
nonsense,  I  consider  this  as  a  joke  upon  'em  all." 
However,  as  Johnson  was  a  friend  and  a  fellow- 
Lancastrian,  Byrom  consented  to  fulfil  expectation,  and 
wrote  an  epilogue  for  the  piece,  in  which  occur  the 
lines : — 

"  Handel  himself  shall  yield  to  Hurlothrumbo, 
And  Bononcini  too  shall  cry  :  Succumbo." 

Partenope,  produced  on  the  24th  of  February  1730,  was 

more  successful  than  Lotario^  but  on  the  whole  the  season, 

which  closed    in   June,  was    anything   but   brilliant,  and 

Handel    had    to   take    serious    thought    for    the   future. 


114  HANDEL  | 

The   first   thing   to  do  was   to  reorganise   his  company. 
Bernacchi,  whose  singing,  according  to  Mrs.  Delany,  did 
not  suit  English  ears,  was  dismissed,  and,  in  deference  to 
popular  taste,  Senesino  was  engaged  in  his  place.^     Various 
other  engagements  were   made,  and    the  season    opened 
on  the  3rd  of  November  with  a  revival  of  Scipio,  in  which 
Senesino  took  his  old  part  of  the  hero.     A  novelty  was 
forthcoming  on  the  2nd  of  February  1731,  in  the  shape  of 
Poro^  with  Senesino  as  the  Indian  king,  Fabri  as  Alexander 
the  Great,  and  Strada  as  Cleofide.     Fortune  now  smiled 
upon  Handel  and  his  theatre,  and  the  following  season — 
during  which  Ezio  (15th  January  1732)  and  Sosarme  (19th    ■ 
February  1732)  were  produced — was    no  less   successful. 
But  meanwhile  Handel  was  winning  triumphs  in  a  very 
different    field.     It    has    often    excited    the    surprise   of 
historians   that,  after   inaugurating  what  was   practically 
a  new  form  of  art  in  Esther  and  Acis  and  Galatea,  Handel 
returned  complacently  to  opera,  and  apparently  forgot  all 
about    his   experiments    in    oratorio.     The   fact   is,   that 
Handel   himself  had    no  suspicion  of  the  importance  of 
these  two  works  in  the  history  of  his  artistic  development. 
Esther  and  Acis  were  doubtless  written  for  some  special 
occasion,  and  Handel  being  an  eminently  practical  man 

^  The  English  infatuation  for  Senesino  seems  to  have  surprised  foreigners.  ^ 
Writing  from  Milan  in  1734  Lord  Harcourt  says  :  "  The  English  have  quite 
lost  their  reputation  of  being  judges  in  musick  ever  since  the  bad  reception 
Bernacchi  met  with  in  England ;  and  although  his  voice  may  be  perhaps  a 
little  worn  out,  nevertheless,  to  show  how  much  he  is  esteemed  in  this 
country  for  his  good  taste,  skill,  and  judgment  in  musick,  he  is  called  the 
Father  of  musick — which  title  he  certainly  well  deserves,  since  'tis  he  that  has 
given  the  fine  taste  of  musick  (as  the  Itahans  express  themselves)  to  the 
famous  Farinelli,  Carestini,  etc.  And  on  the  other  hand,  to  show  the 
difference  of  the  Italian  and  English  taste,  Senesino,  who  is  so  much 
admired  in  England,  would  not  be  able  to  get  his  bread  in  this  country." 
Harcozirt  Papers,  vol.  iii.  p.  27. 


designed  them  in  view  of  the  forces  that  he  had  at  his 
disposal.  The  choir  at  Canons  was  first-rate,  and  for  that 
reason  he  assigned  unusual  importance  to  the  choral  parts 
of  both  works.  But  nothing  would  have  surprised  him 
more  than  to  hear  Esther  or  Acis  described  as  an  oratorio. 
Both  works  were  unquestionably  intended  for  dramatic 
performance.  It  was  an  accident  that  gave  them  the 
special  character  which  fitted  them  equally  well  for 
stage  or  concert  perfoxmance.  Handel  doubtless  looked 
upon  them  merely  z.?,  pieces  d' occasion,  as  a  kind  of  holiday 
task  in  the  midst  of  the  real  business  of  his  life,  and  he 
must  have  been  pleasantly  surprised  when  Bernard  Gates, 
the  master  of  the  children  of  the  Chapel  Royal,  asked 
for  leave  to  give  a  private  performance  of  Esther  at  his 
own  house.  Handel,  no  doubt,  was  flattered,  and  in  due 
course  the  performance  took  place.  The  fact  that  it  was 
given  on  Handel's  birthday,  23rd  February  1732,  indicates 
the  friendly  and  intimate  character  of  the  entertainment. 
The  choir  boys  sang  their  parts  capitally,  the  company 
present  was  charmed,  and  it  was  speedily  arranged  that 
the  performance  should  be  repeated  at  the  Crown  and 
Anchor  Tavern  in  the  Strand  under  the  segis  of  the 
Academy  of  Ancient  Music,  an  institution  in  which 
Handel  took  a  special  interest.  Esther  was  given  twice 
at  the  Crown  and  Anchor  before  crowded  audiences,  and 
its  fame  spread  far  and  wide.  Princess  Anne  heard  of  it 
and,  with  her  usual  enthusiasm  for  the  music  of  her 
beloved  master,  expressed  a  very  earnest  desire  to  see  it. 
She  suggested  a  performance  at  the  opera-house,  but  the 
Bishop  of  London,  Dr.  Gibson,  stepped  in  and  put  his 
veto  upon  the  scheme  of  acting  a  Biblical  drama  in  a  theatre. 
He  had  no  objection,  however,  to  a  performance  without 
dramatic  action,  a  decision  which  was  pregnant  with  fate 

ii6  HANDEL 

for  Handel's  future.  Meanwhile,  the  chatter  about  Esther 
had  brought  another  Richmond  into  the  field,  and  an 
announcement  duly  appeared  to  the  effect  that  a  perform- 
ance of  Esther,  "  as  it  was  composed  for  the  Most  Noble 
James,  Duke  of  Chandos,"  would  be  given  at  the  Great 
Room  in  Villiers  Street,  York  Buildings,  on  the  20th  of 
April  1732.  Nebulous  as  the  copyright  laws  are 
nowadays,  they  seem  to  have  been  even  more  indefinite 
in  the  eighteenth  century,  or  Handel  of  all  men  in  the 
world  never  have  sat  down  under  such  an  aggressive  piece 
of  piracy  as  this.  However,  he  soon  replied  with  a  counter- 
announcement  that  "  by  his  Majesty's  Command,"  Esther 
would  be  given  at  the  King's  Theatre  in  the  Haymarket 
on  the  2nd  of  May  "  by  a  great  number  of  Voices  and 
Instruments."  Very  significant  as  a  document  in  the 
history  of  oratorio  is  the  note  at  the  end  of  the  advertise- 
ment:  ^^  N.B. — There  will  be  no  acting  on  the  Stage,  but 
the  house  will  be  fitted  up  in  a  decent  manner  for  the 
audience.  The  Musick  {i.e.  the  performers)  to  be  dis- 
posed after  the  manner  of  the  Coronation  Service." 
Esther  was  much  revised  and  enlarged  for  this  perform- 
ance, and  the  fact  that  the  text-book  bore  the  legend, 
"  The  additional  words  by  Mr.  Humphreys,"  is  a  sufficient 
proof  that  that  egregious  poetaster  was  not  the  author  of 
the  original  poem.  Esther,  we  are  told  by  Colman,  was 
a  great  success.  The  entire  royal  family  was  present  at 
the  first  performance,  and  the  crowd  was  so  great  that 
many  persons,  who  had  bought  tickets,  were  unable  to 
get  into  the  theatre,  and  their  money  was  returned  to 
them.  The  oratorio  was  given  six  times  in  all,  and  always 
before  packed  houses.  Handel  always  suffered  much  at 
the  hands  of  pirates,  and  at  this  period  they  seem  to  have 
been    exceptionally   active.     Hardly  was   the   success  of 


Esther  established  in  the  teeth  of  unprincipled  competition, 
when  the   same  scurvy  trick  was   played    in   connection 
with   Acis   and    Galatea.     This    time    the   offender   was 
Thomas  Arne,  the  father  of  the   well-known    composer, 
who  was  running  a  season  of  English  opera  at  the  Little 
Theatre   in    the  Haymarket.     Handel  had   already  per- 
mitted, or  at  any  rate  not  objected  to,  a  single  performance 
of  Acis,  given  for  the  benefit  of  a  singer  named  Rochetti 
at  Rich's  theatre  in  Lincoln's   Inn  Fields,  but  it  was  too 
much  to  see  his  property  filched  from  under  his  very  nose 
and  then  exhibited  at  his  own   door.     Arne's   impudent 
piracy  compelled  him  to  assert  his  rights,  and  he  announced 
a  performance  oi  Acis  on  the  loth  of  June  1732,  which  was 
designed  to  compensate  his  opera  subscribers  for  the  fact 
that  only  forty-nine  performances,  instead  of  the  promised 
fifty,  had  been  given  during  the  preceding  season.^     In  view 
of  this  revival  he  remodelled  his  score  in  a  drastic  manner, 
borrowing  several  numbers  from  his  Neapolitan  serenata, 
Aci,  Galatea  e  Polifemo,  and  adding  some  new  songs.     As 
regards  the  performance,  he  followed  the  precedent  already 
laid  down  in  Esther'.     "There  will    be  no  action  on  the 
Stage,"  said  the  advertisement,  "  but  the  Scene  will  repre- 
sent in  a  picturesque  manner  a  rural  prospect  with  rocks, 
groves,  fountains  and  grottoes,  among  which  will  be  dis- 
posed a  Chorus  of  Nymphs  and  Shepherds,  the  habits  and 
every  other  decoration  suited  to  the  subject."     Strada  and 
Senesino   sang   the   principal   parts,   and   the   work  was 
received  with  so  much  favour  that  it  was  performed  four 
times.     During  the  next  few  years  it  was  often  repeated, 
in  many  cases  with  alterations  both  in  words  and  music, 
until  about  the  year  1740  it  assumed  the  final  shape  with 
English  words  in  which  it  has  won  world-wide  renown. 
^  Shaftesbury  Biographical  Sketch. 


WHEN  the  autumn  season  of  1732  began,  Handel's 
position    seemed     unassailable.     He    ruled    the 
musical  destinies  of  London  with  a  rod  of  iron.     He  had 
proved  himself  incomparable  in  opera  and  oratorio  alike. 
His  enemies  lay  crushed  beneath  his  feet.     So  little  did 
he  fear  the  competition  of  his  erstwhile  rival  Bononcini, 
that  he  had  contemptuously  allowed  him  the  use  of  the 
Opera-house   for   the   performance  of  a  serenata  on   the 
24th  of  June.     But    destiny  had    her   revenge   in    store. 
Handel  was  an  autocrat,  and  though  his  sway  was  grate- 
ful to  those  who  could  appreciate  good  music,  his  master- 
ful  bearing  made  him  enemies  among  small  and   great. 
In   the  old    days   of  the   Royal    Academy  of  Music   he 
occupied   a  more  or   less  subordinate  position.     He  had 
a  board  of  directors  over  him,  to  whom  he  was  bound  to 
submit.     But   during   his   own    management   he   reigned 
supreme.     He   brooked   no  rival    near   his   throne.     The 
subscribers  had  to  be  content  with  what  he  gave  them. 
He  permitted  no  remonstrance  or  complaint.     He  chose 
the  singers  and  the  operas,  and  those  who  cavilled  at  the 
entertainment  he  provided  might  go  elsewhere.     The  re- 
sult was  not,  on  the  whole,  surprising.     Handel  had  many 
staunch  supporters,  but  among  his  subscribers  a  spirit  of 


revolt  was  astir.  The  aristocracy  of  England  was  not 
accustomed  to  be  treated  in  this  manner.  Who  was  this 
upstart  German  who  dared  to  dictate  to  them  ?  They 
paid  the  piper,  and  they  had  the  right  to  call  for  the  tune. 
Handel  no  doubt  was  not  conciliatory,  indeed,  his  enemies 
called  him  overbearing.  Neither  side  would  yield  an  inch, 
and  it  was  generally  felt  that  a  crisis  was  at  hand.  Mean- 
while, the  opera  season  opened  as  usual  in  November, 
with  Senesino  and  Strada  still  at  the  head  of  affairs,  and 
on  the  23rd  of  January  1733  a  new  opera,  Orlando — one 
of  Handel's  finest  works  —  was  produced.  Orlando 
was  too  good  for  the  subscribers,  but  it  triumphed  in 
the  teeth  of  opposition,  and  was  given  sixteen  times 
during  the  season.  But  Handel  had  another  string  to 
his  bow.  He  had  learned  that  oratorio  was  at  least  as 
marketable  an  asset  as  opera,  and  for  the  future  he  pro- 
posed to  run  the  two  in  double  harness.  The  beginning 
of  Lent  was  therefore  the  signal  for  the  production  of  a 
new  oratorio,  Deborah,  which  was  given  for  the  first  time 
on  the  17th  of  March  for  Handel's  benefit,  outside  the 
ordinary  series  of  opera  subscription  performances.  On 
this  occasion  several  new  features  were  introduced.  The 
house  was  "  fitted  up  and  illuminated  in  a  new  and  par- 
ticular manner,"  which  was  well  enough,  but  what  was 
less  well  was  that  the  prices  of  admission  were  doubled, 
the  tickets  for  the  pit  and  boxes  being  a  guinea,  and  for 
the  gallery  half  a  guinea.  Handel  seems  to  have  made 
up  his  mind  that  oratorio,  which  just  then  was  the  more 
popular  form  of  entertainment,  should  pay  for  the  de- 
ficiencies of  opera.  The  excuse  given  for  the  raised 
prices  was  the  "extraordinary  expense"  of  the  produc- 
tion, ^  but  there  is  no  doubt  that  this  new  piece  of  imposi- 

^  Shaftesbtiry  Biographical  Sketch. 


tion,  as  it  was  generally  considered,  was  a  severe  trial 
even  to  Handel's  admirers,  and  his  enemies  of  course 
made  capital  out  of  it.  The  fact  that  the  performance  was 
given  upon  one  of  the  "  opera  days  "  further  incensed  the 
subscribers,  and  the  high  prices  militated  against  the 
success  of  DeboraJi,  in  spite  of  the  patronage  of  the  King, 
who  came  with  all  the  royal  family  to  the  performance  on 
the  31st  of  March.  The  situation  became  more  strained 
than  ever.  The  air  was  full  of  rumours,  and  the  news- 
papers of  satirical  squibs.  The  well-known  and  often 
reprinted  letter  which  appeared  in  TJie  Cj'aftsnian  of  the 
7th  of  April  1733,  though  of  course  primarily  a  lampoon 
directed  against  Walpole  and  his  unpopular  Excise  Bill, 
represents  pretty  accurately  the  attitude  of  Handel's 
enemies.  In  several  points  the  Walpole  cap  does  not  fit 
Handel  at  all,  as  in  the  attack  on  Walpole's  brother,  Sir 
Horatio,  but  the  squib  would  have  lost  its  point  if  it  had 
not  had  at  least  a  general  application  to  the  Handel 
squabbles,  so  that  it  is  still  worth  reprinting  as  a  specimen 
of  the  kind  of  abuse  to  which  Handel  had  to  submit. 

Sir, — I  am  always  rejoiced,  when  I  see  a  spirit  of 
Liberty  exert  itself  among  any  sect  or  denomination  of 
my  countrymen.  I  please  myself  with  the  hopes  that  it 
will  grow  more  diffusive,  some  time  or  other  become 
fashionable,  and  at  last  useful  to  the  publick.  As  I  know 
your  zeal  for  Liberty,  I  thought  I  could  not  address  better 
than  to  you  the  following  exact  account  of  the  noble  stand 
lately  made  by  the  polite  part  of  the  world  in  defence  of 
their  Liberties  and  Properties  against  the  open  attacks  and 

bold   attempts  of  Mr.  H 1  upon  both,     I  shall  singly 

relate  the  fact  and  leave  you,  who  are  better  able  than  I 
am,  to  make  what  inferences  or  applications  may  be  proper. 


"  The  rapid  rise  and  progress  of  Mr,  H I's  power  and 

fortune  are  too  well  known  for  me  now  to  relate.  Let  it 
suffice  to  say  that  he  was  grown  so  insolent  upon  the 
sudden  and  undeserved  increase  of  both,  that  he  thought 
nothing  ought  to  oppose  his  imperious  and  extravagant 
will.  He  had  for  some  time  govern'd  the  Operas  and 
modell'd  the  Orchestre  without  the  least  control.  No 
Voices,  no  Instruments,  were  admitted,  but  such  as 
flatter'd  his  ears,  though  they  shock'd  those  of  the 
audience.  Wretched  Scrapers  were  put  above  the  best 
Hands  in  the  Orchestre.  No  Musick  but  his  own  was  to 
be  allowed,  though  everybody  was  weary  of  it,  and  he 
had  the  impudence  to  assert  that  there  was  no  Composer 
in  England  but  himself. 

"  Even  Kings  and  Queens  were  to  be  content  with  what- 
ever low  characters  he  was  pleased  to  assign  them,  as  it 
was  evident  in  the  case  of  Seignior  Montagnana,  who, 
though  a  King,  is  always  obliged  to  act  (except  an  angry, 
rumbling  song  or  two)  the  most  insignificant  part  of  the 
whole  Drama.  This  excess  and  abuse  of  power  soon 
disgusted  the  town ;  his  Government  grew  odious,  and 
his  Opera  grew  empty.  However,  this  degree  of  unpopu- 
larity and  general  hatred,  instead  of  troubling  him,  only 
made  him  more  furious  and  desperate.  He  resolved  to 
make  one  last  effort  to  establish  his  power  and  fortune  by 
force,  since  he  found  it  now  impossible  to  hope  for  it  from 
the  goodwill  of  mankind.  In  order  to  this,  he  formed  a 
Plan,  without  consulting  any  of  his  Friends  (if  he  has  any), 
and  declared  that  at  a  proper  season  he  would  com- 
municate it  to  the  publick,  assuring  us  at  the  same  time 
that  it  would  be  very  much  for  the  advantage  of  the 
publick  in  general  and  of  his  Operas  in  particular.  Some 
people   suspect   that   he   had    settled    it   previously   with 

122  HANDEL 

Signora  Strada  del  P6,  who  is  much  in  his  favour ;  but  all 
that  I  can  advance  with  certainty  is  that  he  had  concerted 
it  with  a  brother  of  his  own,  in  whom  he  places  a  most 
undeserved  confidence.  In  this  brother  of  his,  heat  and 
dulness  are  miraculously  united.  The  former  prompts 
him  to  do  anything  new  and  violent,  while  the  latter 
hinders  him  from  seeing  any  of  the  inconvenience  of  it. 

As  Mr.  H I's  brother,  he  thought  it  was  necessary  he 

should  be  a  Musician  too,  but  all  he  could  arrive  at  after 
a  very  laborious  application  for  many  years  was  a 
moderate  performance  upon  the  Jew's  Trump.  He  had 
for  some  time  play'd  a  Parte  Biiffa  abroad,  and  had 
entangled  his  brother  in  several  troublesome  and  danger- 
ous engagements  in  the  commissions  he  had  given  him  to 
contract  with  foreign  performers,  and  from  which  (by  the 

way)  Mr.  H -1  did  not  disengage  himself  with  much 

honour.     Notwithstanding    all     these    and    many    more 

objections,    Mr.    H 1,  by  and  with   the  advice  of  his 

brother,  at  last  produces  his  project,  resolves  to  cram  it 
down  the  throats  of  the  Town,  prostitutes  great  and 
awful  names  as  the  patrons  of  it,  and  even  does  not 
scruple  to  insinuate  that  they  are  to  be  the  sharers  of  the 
profit.  His  scheme  set  forth  in  substance  that  the  late 
decay  of  Operas  was  owing  to  their  cheapness  and  to  the 
great  frauds  committed  by  the  Doorkeepers ;  that  the 
annual  Subscribers  were  a  parcel  of  Rogues,  and  made  an 
ill  use  of  their  tickets,  by  often  running  two  into  the 
Gallery ;  that  to  obviate  these  abuses  he  had  contrived  a 
thing  that  was  better  than  an  Opera  call'd  an  Oratorio,  to 
which  none  should  be  admitted  but  by  Permits  or  Tickets 
of  one  Guinea  each,  which  should  be  distributed  out  of 
Warehouses  of  his  own  and  by  Offices  of  his  own  naming, 
which  officers  would    not   so  reasonably  be  supposed   to 


cheat  in  the  collection  of  guineas  as  the  Doorkeepers  in 
the  collection  of  half-guineas ;  and  lastly,  that  as  the  very 
being  of  Operas  depended  upon  him  singly,  it  was  just 
that  the  profit  arising  from  hence  should  be  for  his  own 
benefit.  He  added  indeed  one  condition,  to  varnish  the 
whole  a  little,  which  was  that  if  any  person  should  think 
himself  aggrieved,  and  that  the  Oratorio  was  not  worth 
the  price  of  the  Permit,  he  should  be  at  liberty  to  appeal 
to  three  Judges  of  Musick,  who  should  be  obliged  within 
the  space  of  seven  years  at  farthest  finally  to  determine 
the  same,  provided  always  that  the  said  Judges  should 
be  of  his  nomination,  and  known  to  like  no  other  Musick 
but  his. 

"  The  absurdity,  extravagancy,  and  opposition  of  this 
scheme  disgusted  the  whole  town.  Many  of  the  most 
constant  attenders  of  the  Operas  resolved  absolutely  to 
renounce  them,  rather  than  go  to  them  under  such  exhorta- 
tion and  vexation.  They  exclaim'd  against  the  insolent 
and  rapacious  Projector  of  this  Plan.  The  King's  old  and 
sworn  servants  of  the  two  Theatres  of  Drury  Lane  and 
Covent  Garden  reap'd  the  benefit  of  this  general  discontent, 
and  were  resorted  to  in  crowds,  by  way  of  opposition  to 
the  Oratorio.  Even  the  fairest  breasts  were  fired  with 
indignation  against  this  new  imposition.  Assemblies, 
Cards,  Tea,  Coffee,  and  all  other  female  batteries  were 
vigorously  employ'd  to  defeat  the  Project  and  destroy 
the  Projector.  These  joint  endeavours  of  all  ranks  and 
sexes  succeeded  so  well  that  the  Projector  had  the  morti- 
fication to  see  but  a  very  thin  audience  in  his  Oratorio  ; 
and  of  about  two  hundred  and  sixty  odd,  that  it  consisted 
of,  it  was  notorious  that  not  ten  paid  for  their  Permits, 
but  on  the  contrary  had  them  given  them,  and  money  into 
the  bargain  for  coming  to  keep  him  in  countenance. 

124  HANDEL 

"  This  accident,  they  say,  has  thrown  him  into  a  deep 
Melancholy,  interrupted  sometimes  by  raving  fits,  in 
which  he  fancies  he  sees  ten  thousand  Opera  Devils 
coming  to  tear  him  in  pieces ;  then  he  breaks  out  into 
frantick,  incoherent  speeches,  muttering  Sturdy  beggars^ 
assassination,  etc.  In  these  delirious  moments,  he  discovers 
a  particular  aversion  to  the  City.  He  calls  them  all  a 
parcel  of  Rogues,  and  asserts  that  the  honestest  Trader 
among  them  deserves  to  be  hang'd.  It  is  much  question'd 
whether  he  will  recover ;  at  least,  if  he  does,  it  is  not 
doubted  but  he  will  seek  for  a  retreat  in  his  own  Country 
from  the  general  resentment  of  the  Town. — I  am,  Sir, 
your  very  humble  Servant, 

"  F LO  R LI 

"  P.S. — Having  seen  a  little  Epigram,  lately  handed 
about  Town,  which  seems  to  allude  to  the  same  subject, 
I  believe  it  will  not  be  unwelcome  to  your  readers : — 

'  Quoth  W e  to  H 1,  shall  we  two  agree 

And  excise  the  whole  Nation  ? 

H. — Si,  caro,  si. 

Of  what  use  are  Sheep,  if  the  Shepherd  can't  shear  them? 
At  the  Haymarket  I,  you  at  Westminster. 

W. — Hear  him  ! 

Call'd  to  order,  their  Seconds  appear  in  their  place 
One  fam'd  for  his  Morals,^  and  one  for  his  Face." 
In  half  they  succeeded,  in  half  they  were  crost : 
The  Excise  was  obtain'd,  but  poor  Deborah  lost.'" 

Plainly  there  was  a   strong   personal    feeling   against 

Handel  and  his  methods,  but,  after  all,  hard  words  break 

no   bones,   and    the    controversy   might   have   ended    in 

smoke,  had  not  a  redoubtable  antagonist  entered  the  field 

^  Lord  Hervey.  ^  Heidegger. 


against  the  composer,  no  less  a  personage  than  the  heir 
to  the  throne,  Frederick,  Prince  of  Wales. 

Frederick  was  at  that  time  the  most  popular  man  in 
England.  He  had  landed  in  England  four  years  before 
at  a  propitious  moment.  The  hopes  founded  upon  the 
new  reign  had  already  declined.  England  was  cured  of 
any  illusions  she  may  have  entertained  with  regard  to 
George  11.  Vain  and  spiteful,  mean  and  avaricious,  the 
new  King  soon  estranged  the  sympathies  of  court  and 
society.  Frederick,  on  the  other  hand,  had  many  points 
in  his  favour.  His  manners  were  charming,  and  he  spoke 
English  more  than  tolerably.  He  had  inherited  much  of 
his  mother's  intelligence,  he  had  a  taste  for  art  and  litera- 
ture, and  had  himself  been  known  to  trifle  not  unsuccess- 
fully with  the  muse.  He  was  generous  and  extravagant, 
although  in  a  continual  state  of  impecuniosity.  He  liked 
walking  about  the  streets  unguarded,  and  had  a  bow  and 
a  smile  for  every  one  he  met.  To  the  common  people  his 
taste  for  sport  particularly  endeared  him.  He  loved  horse 
racing  and  was  an  enthusiastic  cricketer,  indeed  it  is  said 
that  the  abscess  which  ultimately  caused  his  death  was 
occasioned  by  a  blow  from  a  cricket-ball.^  But  his  surest 
passport  to  the  nation's  favour  was  his  known  hostility  to 
the  King  and  VValpole.  His  father  unquestionably  treated 
him  badly.  He  kept  him  short  of  money,  and  would  not 
allow  him  a  separate  establishment.  In  revenge  Frederick 
threw  himself  into  the  arms  of  the  Opposition,  and  played 
no  insignificant  part  in  the  defeat  of  Walpole  over  the 
Excise  Bill.  Within  the  walls  of  St.  James's  Palace  the 
flame  of  family  feud  burnt  still  hotter.  Frederick  was 
always  at  daggers-drawn  with  his  two  elder  sisters,  Anne 
and  Amelia.     Anne  was  the  musician  of  the  family,  and 

1  A.  E.  Knight,  The  Complete  Cricketer. 

126  HANDEL 

when  Handel,  whose  pupil  she  had  been,  took  the  King's 
Theatre  she  persuaded  the  King  and  Queen  to  subscribe 
for  a  box,  and  to  patronise  the  performances  very  often. 
This  gave  the  Prince  a  good  opportunity  of  annoying  his 
sister,  and  of  affronting  the  King  and  Queen.  He  was 
something  of  a  musician  himself,  and  took  violin  lessons 
from  Dubourg.  Probably  he  knew  as  well  as  any  one  that 
Handel  was  a  far  better  composer  than  any  of  his  rivals,  but 
to  suit  his  own  purposes  he  pretended  to  despise  Handel's 
music,  and  he  carried  his  perversity  so  far  as  to  combine 
with  several  of  the  influential  subscribers  in  founding  a 
rival  enterprise  at  Lincoln's  Inn  Fields  with  Porpora  as  lead- 
ing composer.^  The  scheme  seems  to  have  been  hatched 
some  time  in  the  spring  of  1733,  and  on  the  15th  of  June 
a  meeting  was  summoned  at  Hickford's  Great  Room 
in  Panton  Street  to  discuss  the  plan  of  the  campaign. 
Handel's  enemies  were  accomplished  strategists.  They 
contrived  to  seduce  the  greater  part  of  his  company  from 
their  allegiance.  Senesino,  whose  conceit  and  rapacity 
had  always  made  him  a  difficult  subject  to  manage, 
revolted  first,  and  his  defection  was  followed  by  that  of 
Montagnana  and  the  others,  Heidegger  seems  also  to 
have  severed  his  connection  with  Handel  about  this  time. 
Only  Strada  remained  faithful  to  her  old  impresario. 
For  the  moment,  however,  Handel  had  to  turn  his  atten- 
tion from  the  squabbles  of  pampered  opera  singers  and 
the  intrigues  of  offended  aristocrats,  and  hastened  to 
Oxford  to  conduct  a  series  of  performances  of  his  oratorios. 
Ever  since  the  Revolution  Oxford  had  been  a  hotbed  of 
Jacobitism,  and  the  new  Vice-Chancellor,  Dr.  Holmes,  a 
staunch  Hanoverian,  had  made  up  his  mind  to  do  something 
to  bring  about  a  better  understanding  between  the  Court 
^  Hervey,  Memoirs,  i.  320. 


and  the  University.  He  determined  to  make  a  beginning 
by  inviting  Handel,  who  was  known  to  be  a  persona  grata 
to  the  King  and  Queen,  to  give  the  Oxford  Jacobites  a  taste 
of  his  music  during  the  annual  festivities  of  Commemora- 
tion, or,  as  it  was  then  called,  the  Public  Act,  and  to  receive 
the  degree  of  Doctor  of  Music.  The  second  part  of  the 
scheme  went  agley,  for  when  Handel  found  that  the  degree 
would  cost  him  ;^ioo,  he  lost  his  temper  and  declared  he 
was  not  going  to  throw  his  money  away  to  oblige  a  parcel 
of  blockheads ;  ^  but  the  oratorios  came  off  in  due  course, 
and  the  occasion  was  rendered  historical  by  the  production 
oi  Athaliah  on  July  10.  Handel  had  a  popular  success  at 
Oxford,  but  the  Jacobite  dons  looked  askance  at  the 
Whig  composer.  A  passage  in  the  diary  of  Thomas 
Hearne,  the  antiquary,  who  was  a  Fellow  of  Edmund 
Hall,  throws  an  amusing  sidelight  upon  the  opinion  of 
Handel  and  his  music  held  by  the  dry-as-dust  Oxford 
pundits.  Hearne,  whose  devotion  to  "  monkish  manu- 
scripts "  was  sung  by  Pope,^  cared  little  about  music  and 
concerts,  which,  according  to  him,  only  "  exhausted  gentle- 
men's pockets  and  were  incentives  to  lewdness."  He  had 
to  admit  Handel's  "  great  skill,"  but  he  was  indignant  at 
having  to  give  five  shillings  for  his  ticket,  and  a  shilling 
for  a  book  of  words  "  not  worth  a  penny,"  and  in  his  heart 
of  hearts  he  resented  the  action  of  the  Vice-Chancellor  in 
forbidding  a  company  of  strolling  players  to  come  into 
Oxford,  while  "  Handel  and  his  lousy  crew,  a  great  number 

^  The  Abbe  Prevost  gave  his  readers  a  different  explanation  of  the  fact 
that  Handel  did  not  take  his  degree,  and  one  slightly  less  in  keeping  with 
Handel's  character  :  "  M.  Handel  s'est  rendu  a  Oxford,  mais  on  a  ete  surpris 
de  lui  voir  refuser  les  marques  de  distinction  qu'on  lui  destinait.  II  n'y  avait 
que  cette  modestie  qui  put  etre  egale  a  ses  talents."  Le  Pour  et  le  Centre, 
i.  123. 

-  Pope,  liforal  Essays,  iv. 

128  HANDEL 

of  foreign  fiddlers,"  were  admitted  to  the  sacred  precincts 
of  the  Sheldonian  Theatre.^ 

The  undergraduates,  too,  for  once  agreed  with  the 
dons  in  complaining  of  Handel's  excessive  charges.  In  a 
squib  of  the  period,  Mr.  Thoughtless,  a  Merton  "blood," 
bewailing  his  impecuniosity,  cries :  "  In  the  next  place, 
there's  the  furniture  of  my  room  procured  me  some 
tickets  to  hear  that  bewitching  music,  that  cursed 
Handel,  with  his  confounded  Oratio's  {sic);  I  wish  him 
and  his  company  had  been  yelling  in  the  infernal  shades 
below."  2 

Handel  returned  to  London  to  find  the  operatic 
quarrel  raging  more  fiercely  than  ever.  Luckily,  though 
peers  and  proctors  joined  forces  against  him,  he  had 
plenty  of  trusty  friends  left,  who  rallied  manfully  to  his 
standard.  Arbuthnot  riddled  the  opposition  with  light 
artillery  in  Harmony  in  an  Uproar,  a  squib  published  under 
the  pseudonym  of  "  Hurlothrumbo  Johnson."^  Handel 
is  on  his  trial,  and  the  judge  proceeds  to  detail  the  various 
charges  which  he  has  to  answer : — 

"  Imprimis,  you  are  charg'd  with  having  bewitch'd  us 
for  the  space  of  twenty  Years  past,  nor  do  we  know  where 
your  Inchantments  will  end,  if  a  timely  stop  is  not  put  to 
them,  they  threatening  us  with  an  entire  Destruction  of 
Liberty  and  an  absolute  Tyranny  in  your  Person  over  the 
whole  Territories  of  the  Haymarket. 

"  Secondly,  you  have  most  insolently  dar'd  to  give  us 
good  Musick  and  sound  Harmony  when  we  wanted  and 

•^  Hearne,  Reliquia  Hearniance, 

-  The  Oxfo7-d  Act :  A  Neiv  Ballad-Opera,  London,  1733. 

^  Arbuthnot's  latest  biographer,  Mr.  G.  A.  Aitken,  denies  his  authorship 
of  this  pamphlet,  in  spite  of  its  inclusion  in  the  collected  edition  of  his  works 
published  in  I75i- 

?Ia  d'AeUer i^uoicr  ?late^    f:/t€iC-  oan2d  oMrPc> 

6f/fa^6  Ca/Q(^a.  7-€/tW(^  crr>tCy)  my  <^-(i,a  J //('<?  f(y race 
d/id  J'a4/<^ /tm^ 'TMj.i-L.  //iff    'J^atyno/noi^/kaU 



desir'd  bad,  to  the  great  Encouragement  of  your  Operas 
and  the  ruin  of  our  good  Allies  and  Confederates  the 
Professors  of  bad  Musick. 

"  Thirdly,  you  have  most  feloniously  and  arrogantly 
assum'd  to  yourself  an  uncontroul'd  Property  of  pleasing 
us,  whether  we  would  or  no,  and  have  often  been  so  bold 
as  to  charm  us,  when  we  were  positively  resolv'd  to  be  out 
of  Humour." 

Then  come  more  special  charges,  in  which  we  can 
discern  a  sly  hit  at  the  "  Academics "  of  the  day,  the 
learned  professors  who  maintained  that  nobody  could 
compose  unless  he  had  taken  a  degree  at  Oxford  or 

"  First  then,  Sir,  have  you  taken  your  Degree  ?  Boh  ! 
Ha,  ha,  ha !  Are  you  a  Doctor,  Sir?  A  fine  Composer 
indeed  and  not  a  Graduate !  .  .  .  Why,  Doctor  Pushpin 
(Pepusch)  and  Doctor  Blue  (Greene)  laugh  at  you  and 
scorn  to  keep  you  company,  ...  I  understand  you  have 
never  read  Euclid,  are  a  declar'd  Foe  to  all  the  proper 
Modes  and  Forms  and  Tones  of  Musick,  and  scorn  to  be 
subservient  to  or  ty'd  up  by  Rules  or  have  your  Genius 
cramp'd.  Thou  Goth  and  Vandal  to  just  Sounds !  We 
may  as  well  place  Nightingales  and  Canary  birds  behind 
the  Scenes,  and  take  the  wild  Operas  of  Nature  from  them 
as  allow  you  to  be  a  Composer." 

But  the  time  for  words  was  over.  The  combatants 
were  already  on  the  terrain^  and  the  duel  was  to  be  fought 
a  outrance.  Handel  snatched  a  brief  holiday  after  his 
visit  to  Oxford,  and,  accompanied  by  his  friend  Schmidt, 
took  a  hasty  trip  to  the  Continent  in  search  of  new  singers. 
In  Italy  he  heard  Farinelli,  then  a  young  man  and  com- 
paratively unknown,  and  Carestini.  Unfortunately  for 
his  pocket  he  preferred  the  latter,  whom  he  at  once 


engaged  and  brought  back  with  him  to  England.^  He 
opened  his  season  on  the  30th  of  October,  the  King's 
birthday,  and  was  honoured  by  the  presence  of  the  court, 
even  the  Prince  of  Wales  being  compelled  by  etiquette  to 
put  in  an  appearance.  A  few  weeks  later  his  new  castrato, 
Carestini,  made  his  appearance. 

Carestini  was  undoubtedly  a  very  great  singer,  but  he 
had  the  misfortune  in  his  earlier  days  to  be  eclipsed  by 
Senesino,  and  in  his  later  by  Farinelli.  His  voice,  originally 
a  soprano,  had  sunk  by  this  time  to  "  the  fullest,  finest, 
and  deepest  counter-tenor  that  has  perhaps  ever  been 
heard."  ^  Hasse  said  of  him  that  whoever  had  not  heard 
Carestini  was  unacquainted  with  the  most  perfect  style  of 
singing.  He  was  a  great  success  in  London,  the  more  so 
as  Senesino's  voice  was  distinctly  not  what  it  had  been. 
Arbuthnot,  indeed,  rudely  speaks  of  the  latter  as  "  almost 
past  his  Business."  ^ 

The  rival  company — the  Opera  of  the  Nobility,  as  it 
pompously  called  itself — opened  its  season  in  the  Lincoln's 
Inn  Fields  Theatre  on  the  29th  of  December  1733  with 
Porpora's  Ariadne.  Handel  replied  with  an  Ariadne  of 
his  own,  produced  on  the  26th  of  January  1734,  and  so  the 
struggle  went  on.  Carestini  was  Handel's  trump  card, 
but  his  other  singers  were  nothing  very  much  to  boast  of 
Lady  Bristol  tells  us  all  about  them  in  a  letter  to  her 
husband :  "  I  am  just  come  home  from  a  dull  empty 
opera  {Caio  Fabrizio^  a  pasticcio),  tho'  the  second  time. 
The  first  was  full  to  hear  the  new  man  (Carestini),  who  I 
can  find  out  to  be  an  extream  good  singer.  The  rest  are 
all  scrubbs,  except  old  Durastanti,  that  sings  as  well  as 
ever  she  did."  ^     Party  feeling  ran  high  between  the  two 

^  Hawkins,  History,  v.  318.  -  Burney,  History,  iv.  369. 

^  Harmony  iti  an  Uproar,  39.  *  Letter  Book  of  /ohn  Hervey,  iii. 


opera-houses  and  their  supporters.  Everybody  who  had 
a  grudge  against  the  court  went  to  Lincoln's  Inn  Fields 
in  order  to  curry  favour  with  the  Prince.  The  King  and 
Queen  cared  little  about  music,  but  they  were  very  much 
annoyed  at  Frederick's  behaviour,  which  they  regarded  as 
a  personal  slight.  They  made  a  point  of  patronising 
Handel  as  much  as  possible,  and,  as  Lord  Hervey  says, 
"sat  freezing  constantly  at  the  empty  Haymarket  Opera." 
Unfortunately  for  Handel,  the  King  was  at  that  time 
extremely  unpopular,  and  the  presence  of  the  court  at  his 
theatre  by  no  means  implied  full  houses. 

"  The  affair,"  Hervey  continues,  "  grew  as  serious  as 
that  of  the  Greens  and  the  Blues  under  Justinian  at 
Constantinople.  An  anti-Handelian  was  looked  upon  as  an 
anti-courtier,  and  voting  against  the  court  in  Parliament  was 
hardly  a  less  remissible  or  more  venial  sin  than  speaking 
against  Handel  or  going  to  the  Lincoln's  Inn  Fields  Opera. 
The  Princess  Royal  said  she  expected  in  a  little  while  to 
see  half  the  House  of  Lords  playing  in  the  orchestra  at 
the  latter  house  in  their  robes  and  coronets ;  and  the 
King — though  he  declared  he  took  no  other  part  in  this 
affair  than  subscribing  ^1000  a  year  to  Handel — often 
added  at  the  same  time  that  '  he  did  not  think  setting 
oneself  at  the  head  of  a  faction  of  fiddlers  a  very  honourable 
occupation  for  people  of  quality,  or  the  ruin  of  one  poor 
fellow  so  generous  or  so  good-natured  a  scheme  as  to  do 
much  honour  to  the  undertakers,  whether  they  succeeded 
or  not ;  but  the  better  they  succeeded  in  it,  the  more  he 
thought  they  would  have  reason  to  be  ashamed  of  it'  "  ^ 

Meanwhile  Handel's  old  enemy,  Bononcini,  had  dis- 
appeared from  the  scene,  accused  of  having  palmed 
off  a  madrigal  of  Lotti's  upon  the  Academy  of  Ancient 
^  Hervey,  Metnoirs,  i.  320. 

1 3  2  HANDEL 

Music  as  a  work  of  his  own.  The  matter  was  much  dis- 
cussed at  the  time,  and  Bononcini  had  every  opportunity 
given  him  of  justifying  his  action.  He  preferred,  however, 
to  remain  silent,  so  the  case  was  given  against  him,  and 
he  left  England  for  ever,  disappointed  and  disgraced. 

The  great  social  excitement  of  the  year  was  the 
marriage  of  the  Princess  Royal  to  William,  Prince  of 
Orange.  The  match  could  hardly  be  called  a  brilliant 
one,  since  the  Prince  was  not  of  royal  rank,  was  as 
poor  as  a  church  mouse,  and  deformed  into  the  bargain. 
Princess  Anne  did  not  pretend  to  care  about  him,  and 
the  King  and  Queen  snubbed  him  unmercifully.  When 
he  arrived  at  St.  James's  Palace,  Anne  was  surrounded 
by  a  bevy  of  her  favourite  opera  singers,  and  refused  to 
leave  the  harpsichord  in  order  to  greet  her  fiance.  How- 
ever, the  marriage  was  popular  throughout  the  country, 
partly  as  a  guarantee  for  the  Protestant  succession,  and 
partly  because  of  the  magic  that  still  hung  round  the  name 
of  Orange.  The  wedding  took  place  on  the  14th  of  March. 
Handel  wrote  an  anthem  for  the  occasion,  or  rather 
compiled  one,  for  the  work  in  question,  "  This  is  the  day," 
was  made  up  entirely  of  selections  from  his  earlier  works 
The  Princess's  marriage  gave  birth  to  yet  another  work, 
the  serenata  Parnasso  in  Festa,  which  was  performed  the 
day  before  the  wedding,  at  the  Haymarket  Theatre,  before 
the  King  and  all  the  Royal  Family.  This  also  was  largely 
a  compilation,  being  taken  principally  from  Athaliah 
which  having  only  been  given  at  Oxford  was  not  yet 
familiar  to  London  audiences. 

In  Anne,  Handel  lost  a  friend  whose  enthusiasm  was 
only  equalled  by  her  indiscretion.  She  was  devoted  to 
her  old  preceptor  and  his  music,  yet  by  stirring  up  the 
Prince  of  Wales  against  him  she  indirectly  inflicted  upon 


him  the  severest  injury  that  he  ever  had  to  endure.  Yet 
Handel  owed  much  to  her.  The  frequent  grants  "  to  the 
undertakers  of  the  Opera  to  discharge  their  debts  "  which 
appear  in  the  Treasury  Papers  during  Handel's  tenancy 
of  the  King's  Theatre,  may  be  traced  to  her  amiable 
influence.  She  trained  her  sisters,  too,  to  be  thorough- 
going Handelians — though  Amelia  was  much  more  at 
home  on  horseback  than  in  her  box  at  the  opera,  and  the 
gentle  Caroline  never  pretended  to  be  the  musician  that 
Anne  was.  Nevertheless,  we  find  Handel  still  drawing 
his  i^20o  a  year  as  their  music  master  some  years  after 
Anne's  marriage.^  But  court  favour  could  not  ensure 
Handel  against  ill-luck  and  the  injuries  of  determined 
enemies.  His  lease  of  the  Haymarket  Theatre  expired 
in  July  1734,  and  before  he  could  renew  it,  his  rivals,  by 
a  clever  piece  of  sharp  practice,  stepped  in  and  secured  the 
theatre  for  themselves.  Worse  still,  they  strengthened 
their  company  by  the  addition  of  the  famous  Farinelli, 
the  most  prodigiously  gifted  singer  of  the  age,  who  had 
already  turned  the  heads  of  all  the  amateurs  on  the 
Continent,  and  was  shortly  to  throw  Senesino,  Carestini, 
and  all  the  rest  into  the  shade,  so  far  as  England  was 
concerned.  But  Handel  never  knew  what  it  was  to  be 
beaten.  He  accepted  the  inevitable,  and  hastened  to 
secure  the  new  theatre  in  Covent  Garden  which  had 
been  built  a  few  years  before  by  John  Rich.  His  mana- 
gerial worries  do  not  seem  to  have  affected  his  spirits  in 
the  least.  We  have  a  pleasant  glimpse  of  him  at  a  musical 
party  at  Mrs.  Delany's  about  this  time.  "Mr.  Handel 
was  in  the  best  humour  in  the  world,"  wrote  the  hostess 
to  her  sister.  "  He  played  lessons  and  accompanied 
Strada  and  all  the  ladies  that  sung,  from  seven  o'clock  till 

'  Treasury  Papers,  1736. 

134  HANDEL 

eleven.     I  gave  them  tea  and  coffee,  and  about  half  an 
hour   after   nine   had   a   salver   brought  in  of  chocolate, 
mulled   white   wine,  and  biscuits.     Everybody  was  easy 
and  seemed  pleased."^     Meanwhile  Handel's  plans  were 
slightly  modified  by  the  claims  of  his  old  friend  Anne,  now 
Princess  of  Orange,  who  had  been  spending  the  summer 
in    England,    and    wanted   to   hear    some   music   before 
rejoining  her  husband  at  the  Hague.     So,  to  oblige  her, 
Handel   took   the   theatre   in    Lincoln's    Inn  Fields,  and 
opened    a   short   season    there   on    the    5  th   of    October 
1734,  relying  chiefly  upon  Ariadne  and  //  Pastor  Fido, 
which   had    been    revived    with  great  success  during  the 
previous    season    in    a   much    revised    and    altered   form. 
In  November  he  moved  to  the  far  more  convenient  theatre 
in    Covent    Garden,   signalising   his    arrival    in   his   new 
quarters  by  the  production  of  a  ballet,  TerpsichorCy  played 
as   a   prologue   to   //  Pastor  Fido,  in  which  the  French 
ballerina  Mile.  Salle,  who  had  already  danced  herself  into 
the  favour  of  London  audiences  in  Rich's  pantomimes  at 
Lincoln's  Inn  Fields,  made  her  appearance.     He  also  pro- 
duced a  pasticcio  selected  from  his  own  works,  entitled 
Oi'estes.     These  were  followed  by  a  new  opera,  Ariodante 
(8th  January  1735).     Carestini  was  still  with  Handel,  but 
even  the  magic  of  his  mellifluous  voice  was  powerless  in  the 
face  of  the  brilliant  galaxy  of  talent  which  the  opposition 
had  assembled  at  the  King's  Theatre.     Farinelli,  Senesino 
Cuzzoni,  and    Montagnana   formed,   indeed,   a   combina- 
tion  that    was   hard  to   beat — and    harder   still   to  pay, 
as    the   aristocratic    directors    found    ere    long   to    their 

The    Farinelli    furore   soon    reached    the    borders    of 
positive  insanity.     "  On  aimait  les  autres,"  wrote  the  Abb6 

^  Delany,  Correspondence,  vol.  i. 


Prevost, "  pour  celui-ci,  on  en  est  idolatre;  c'est  une  fureur."  ^ 
His  singing  entranced  even  a  jealous  rival  like  Senesino, 
who,  when  they  first  appeared  together,  burst  into  tears 
at  the  conclusion  of  Farinelli's  first  song,  and,  forgetful 
of  all  else,  ran  across  the  stage  and  threw  himself  into 
Farinelli's  arms.  What  his  audiences  thought  of  him 
may  be  summed  up  in  the 'famous  exclamation  wrung  from 
a  too  impressionable  dame,  and  afterwards  immortalised 
by  Hogarth  in  "  The  Rake's  Progress  " :  "  One  God,  one 
Farinelli !  "  But  the  enthusiasm  of  his  English  admirers 
took  a  more  practical  form.  The  Prince  of  Wales  gave 
him  a  gold  snuff-box  set  with  diamonds  and  rubies,  con- 
taining a  pair  of  diamond  knee  buckles  and  a  purse 
of  a  hundred  guineas ;  and  society  followed  suit  to  such 
purpose  that  though  Farinelli's  salary  was  only  ;^i5oo, 
he  contrived  during  his  stay  in  London  to  make  no  less 
than  ;^5ooo  a  year.  On  his  return  to  Italy  he  built  a 
villa  with  the  proceeds  of  his  trip  to  England,  which  he 
not  inaptly  christened  the  "  English  Folly."  In  the  face 
of  the  general  infatuation  for  Farinelli,  Handel  and  his 
"  scrubbs  "  were  helpless,  and  his  enemies  triumphed  over 
his  defeat.  In  a  private  letter  of  the  27th  of  December 
1734  in  the  Th'ockuw7'ton  Papers  we  read  :  "  I  don't  pity 
Handel  in  the  least,  for  I  hope  this  mortification  will  make 
him  a  human  creature ;  for  I  am  sure  before  he  was  no 
better  than  a  brute,  when  he  could  treat  civilised  people 
with  so  much  brutality  as  I  know  he  has  done."  ^ 

With  the  approach  of  Lent,  Handel  turned  his  energies 
in  the  far  more  profitable  direction  of  oratorio.  With 
his  second-rate  company  he  could  scarcely  hope  to 
compete  with  the  brilliant  operatic  performances  at  the 

^  Le  Potir  et  le  Contre,  v.  204. 

^  Historical  MSS.  Commission,  Appendix  to  3rd  Report. 

136  HANDEL 

Haymarket,  but  in  oratorio  he  was  supreme,  and  Porpora's 
attempt  to  rival  him  on  his  own  ground  by  producing  his 
oratorio  David  only  recoiled  on  his  own  head.  During 
Lent  Esther  was  given  six  times,  Deborah  thrice,  and 
AthaliaJi  five  times — a  sufficient  proof  that  London 
was  steadily  learning  to  cultivate  a  taste  for  the  new 

An  interesting  feature  of  this  year's  oratorio  season 
was  the  intoduction  of  organ  concertos  between  the  acts, 
as  they  were  still  called.  Handel's  fingers  had  not  lost 
their  old  cunning,  and  his  performance  was  extremely 
popular.  Mrs.  Delany  wrote  of  it  to  her  mother :  "  My 
sister  gave  you  an  account  of  Mr,  Handel's  playing  here 
for  three  hours  together.  I  did  wish  for  you,  for  no 
entertainment  in  music  could  exceed  it,  except  his  playing 
on  the  organ  in  Esther,  where  he  performs  a  part  in  two 
concertos,  that  are  the  finest  things  I  ever  heard  in  my 

Another  event  of  the  season  worth  recording  is  the 
first  appearance  under  Handel's  standard  of  the  famous 
tenor,  John  Beard.  Beard  had  sung  as  a  boy  in  the 
performance  of  Esther  given  in  1732  at  Bernard  Gates's 
house  by  the  choristers  of  the  Chapel  Royal.  He  is 
referred  to  in  a  letter  of  Lady  Elizabeth  Compton's,  dated 
the  2ist  of  November  1734.  "A  Scholar  of  Mr.  Gates, 
Beard,  who  left  the  Chapel  last  Easter,  shines  in  the 
opera  of  Covent  Garden,  and  Mr.  Handel  is  so  full  of 
his  Praises  that  he  says  he  will  surprise  the  Town  with 
his  performance  before  the  Winter  is  over."^  Beard 
seems  only  to  have  sung  minor  roles  until  1736,  when  he 
took  the  principal  tenor  part  in  Alexander's  Feast.     He 

^  Delany,  Correspondence,  vol.  i. 

^  Hisiorital  MSS.  Commisson,  Report  xi.  Appendix,  pt.  4. 


afterwards  sang  in  many  of  Handel's  oratorios,  notably  in 
Israel  in  Egypt,  Samson,  and  Jephtha. 

When  Lent  was  over,  Handel  returned  to  opera,  and  in 
Alcina  (i6th  April  1735)  scored  one  of  the  most  brilliant 
successes  of  his  career,  though  the  dances,  with  which 
the  opera  was  liberally  besprinkled,  were  not  well  re- 
ceived, and  Mile.  Salle,  who  seems  to  have  quite  outlived 
her  popularity,  was  actually  hissed.^  Mrs.  Delany  writes 
of  Alcina  with  special  enthusiasm :  "  Yesterday  morning 
my  sister  and  I  went  to  Mr.  Handel's  house  to  hear  the 
first  rehearsal  of  the  new  opera  Alcina.  I  think  it  is  the 
best  he  ever  made,  but  I  have  thought  so  of  so  many,  that 
I  will  not  say  positively  'tis  the  finest,  but  'tis  so  fine 
I  have  not  words  to  describe  it.  Strada  has  a  whole 
scene  of  charming  recitative  —  there  are  a  thousand 
beauties.  Whilst  Mr.  Handel  was  playing  his  part, 
I  could  not  help  thinking  him  a  necromancer  in  the 
midst  of  his  own  enchantments."  Handel  had,  of  course, 
the  usual  trouble  with  his  singers.  Carestini  grew  restive 
under  his  dictatorship,  and  refused  to  sing  the  lovely  air 
"  Verdi  prati."  "  You  dog  !  "  cried  the  composer,  "  Don't 
I  know  better  as  yourself  what  is  good  for  you  to  sing  ? 
If  you  will  not  sing  all  the  songs  what  I  give  you,  I  will 
not  pay  you  a  stiver."  Carestini  sang  the  song,  and  with 
it  scored  one  of  his  most  brilliant  triumphs,  but  he  never 
forgave  the  composer,  and  left  the  company  at  the  end  of 
the  season.  Deprived  of  his  leading  man,  and  unable  at 
the  moment  to  find  an  adequate  substitute,  Handel  was 
reduced  to  silence.  He  thought  it  was  wiser  to  keep  his 
theatre  closed,  than  to  open  it  in  a  despairing  attempt 
to  compete  with  his  invincible  rivals  in  the  Hay  market. 
In  the  following  year,  however,  he  entered  the  lists  with 

^  Prevost,  Le  Pour  et  le  Centre,  vi.  35. 

138  HANDEL 

a  new  choral  work,  Alexander's  Feast,  which  was  produced 
on  the  19th  of  February  with  overwhelming  success. 
Musical  criticism  figures  so  rarely  in  the  newspapers  of 
the  day,  that  the  London  Daily  Post's  observations  are 
worth  recording:  "There  never  was  upon  the  like 
occasion  so  numerous  and  splendid  an  audience  at  any 
theatre  in  London,  there  being  at  least  thirteen  hundred 
persons  present ;  and  it  is  judged  that  the  receipt  of  the 
house  could  not  amount  to  less  than  ;^450.  It  met  with 
general  applause,  though  attended  with  the  inconvenience 
of  having  the  performers  placed  at  too  great  a  distance 
from  the  audience,  which  we  hear  will  be  rectified  the 
next  time  of  performance."  The  success  of  Alexanders 
Feast  must  have  cheered  Handel  more  than  a  little,  but 
hard  work  and  the  incessant  worries  of  a  managerial  life 
had  already  begun  to  tell  seriously  upon  his  health. 
During  the  past  few  years  he  had  paid  several  visits  to 
Tunbridge  Wells,  but  the  baths  there  had  done  him  little 
good,  and  he  was  troubled  by  presages  of  approaching 

The  marriage  of  the  Prince  of  Wales  to  Princess 
Augusta  of  Saxe-Gotha  roused  him  to  fresh  activity.  He 
wrote  a  new  wedding  anthem,  "  Sing  unto  God,"  which  was 
duly  performed  at  the  ceremony  in  the  Chapel  Royal  on 
the  27th  of  April  1736,  and  he  opened  a  short  opera  season 
on  the  5th  of  May,  the  principal  interest  of  which  centred  in 
the  production  of  Atalanta  on  the  12th  of  May.  Atalanta, 
being  written  to  celebrate  the  Royal  marriage,  was  of  an 
appropriately  festive  character.  It  ended  with  a  nuptial 
chorus  in  the  Temple  of  Hymen,  and  a  display  of  fireworks. 
Atalanta  seems  to  have  won  the  Prince  of  Wales's  heart, 
or,  more  probably,  the  departure  of  the  Princess  Royal 
removed  his  only  reason  for  objecting  to  Handel's  music. 


At  any  rate,  from  this  time  forth  he  was  a  cordial  sup- 
porter of  the  Covent  Garden  opera,  while  the  King,  who 
was  determined,  whatever  happened,  never  to  be  on  the 
same  side  as  his  son,  discontinued  his  support.  The 
opposition  at  the  King's  Theatre,  not  to  be  outdone  by- 
Handel,  produced  a  marriage  cantata,  La  Festa  (flmeneo, 
by  Porpora  ;  but  in  spite  of  Farinelli's  singing  it  fell  lament- 
ably flat,  and  was  only  given  two  or  three  times.  The 
truth  was  that  Farinelli  had  already  outstayed  his  welcome. 
He  had  been  the  wonder  of  an  hour,  but  the  fickle  public 
was  getting  tired  of  him  and  of  the  rubbishy  operas  in 
which  he  sung,  and  was  on  the  look-out  for  a  new  ex- 

"  When  I  went  out  of  Town  last  autumn,"  wrote  Mrs. 
Delany  to  Swift,  "  the  reigning  madness  was  Farinelli ;  I 
find  it  now  turned  on  Pasquin}  a  dramatic  satire  on  the 
times.  It  has  had  almost  as  long  a  run  as  the  Beggar  s 
Opera,  but  in  my  opinion  not  with  equal  merit,  though  it 
has  humour." 

With  the  opening  of  the  autumn  season,  Handel's  hopes 
rose  high.  The  Haymarket  opera  was  on  its  last  legs. 
Senesino  had  already  gone  home,  and  Farinelli  was 
beginning  to  think  about  taking  his  departure.  Handel 
now  had  the  Prince  and  Princess  of  Wales  on  his  side, 
and  his  company  was  strengthened  by  the  accession  of 
several  new  and  promising  recruits.  Mrs.  Delany  was  in 
high  spirits :  "  At  the  Haymarket,"  she  wrote,  "  they  have 
Farinelli,  Merighi, — with  no  sound  in  her  voice,  but 
thundering  action,  a  beauty  with  no  other  merit, — and  one 
Chimenti,  a  tolerable  good  woman  with  a  pretty  voice, 
and  Montagnana  who  roars  as  usual  !  With  this  band  of 
singers  and  dull  Italian  operas,  such  as  you  almost  fall 

'  By  Henry  Fielding. 


asleep  at,  they  presume  to  rival  Handel,  who  has  Strada, 
that  sings  better  than  ever  she  did,  Gizziello,^  who  is  much 
improved  since  last  year,  and  Annibali,^  who  has  the  best 
part  of  Senesino's  voice  and  Carestino's,  with  a  prodigious 
fine  taste  and  good  action,  .  .  .  Mr.  Handel  has  two  new 
operas  ready,  Anninius  and  Giustino.  He  was  here  two 
or  three  mornings  ago,  and  played  to  me  both  the  over- 
tures, which  are  charming."  ^ 

Handel  worked  with  the  courage  of  despair.  His 
expenses  had  been  heavy,  and  with  the  advent  of  his  new 
singers  would  be  heavier  still,  but  hope  sprang  eternal  in 
his  breast.  The  approaching  collapse  of  the  Haymarket 
opera,  which  was  an  open  secret,  nerved  him  to  fresh 
efforts.  During  the  spring  of  1737  he  produced  no  fewer 
than  three  new  operas,  Arminio  (January  12),  Giustino 
(February  16),  and  Berenice  (May  18),  besides  revising  his 
thirty-year-old  Italian  oratorio,  //  Trionfo  del  Tempo, 
for  the  Lenten  performances.  No  constitution,  however 
Herculean,  could  stand  such  a  strain,  and  the  inevitable 
breakdown  came  in  the  middle  of  April.  By  the  end  of 
the  month  Handel  was  a  little  better,  and  the  London 
Daily  Post  was  able  to  announce  that  "  Mr.  Handel,  who 
had  been  some  time  indisposed  with  the  rheumatism,  is  in 
so  fair  a  way  of  recovery  that  it  is  hoped  he  will  be  able  to 
accompany  the  opera  oi  Justin  on  the  24th  of  May."  He 
contrived  to  pull  himself  together,  but  before  the  end  of 
the  season  came  another  collapse.  This  time  it  was 
useless  to  disguise  the  fact  that  the  malady  was  paralysis, 

'  Gioachino  Conti,  called  Gizziello  after  his  master  Gizzi.  He  ?iad  a  high 
soprano  voice,  and  his  style  was  remarkable  for  delicacy  and  refinement.  He 
made  his  English  debut  in  Atalaiita. 

•  Domenico  Annibali,  a  contralto  who  came  to  London  from  Dresden. 

^  Delany,  Correspondence,  vol.  i. 


which  completely  crippled  his  right  hand,  complicated  by- 
serious  brain  trouble.^  The  mighty  Handel  was  reduced 
to  a  state  bordering  upon  childishness,  and  it  was  only 
with  the  greatest  difficulty  that  his  friends  could  induce 
him  to  start  for  Aix-la-Chapelle,  where  it  was  hoped  that 
the  sulphur  baths  would  cure  him.  By  the  side  of  this 
grievous  affliction  the  final  failure  of  his  operatic  enterprise 
seemed  a  trifle.  A  failure  it  was,  disastrous  and  complete. 
When  Covent  Garden  closed  its  doors  on  the  ist  of  June, 
Handel  was  a  bankrupt.  The  savings  of  a  lifetime, 
amounting  to  iS^ 1 0,000,  were  scattered  to  the  winds,  and 
his  creditors — artists  and  tradesmen  alike — had  to  be 
satisfied  with  bills.  To  the  credit  of  mankind  be  it 
recorded,  that  in  all  cases,  save  that  of  Signor  del  P6, 
Strada's  husband,  they  were  accepted,  and  in  due  time 
redeemed.  It  was  a  poor  consolation  to  Handel  that  in 
ruining  him  his  opponents  had  ruined  themselves.  The 
Haymarket  opera  struggled  on  for  ten  days  longer,  when 
the  unexpected  departure  of  Farinelli  brought  matters  to 
a  sudden  and  ignoble  collapse.  The  rival  enterprises  had 
devoured  each  other,  and  the  town  turned  with  a  sigh  of 
relief  from  their  futile  struggles  to  the  broad  humours  of 
The  Dragon  of  Wantley,  in  which  the  pompous  inanity 
of  grand  opera  was  mercilessly  parodied.  The  somewhat 
obvious  fun  of  Henry  Carey's  burlesque  delighted  the 
King,  who  kept  poor  dying  Queen  Caroline  from  her  bed 
by  his  interminable  descriptions  of  the  dragon's  antics,^ 
and  Lampe's  vivacious  music  extorted  an  approving  smile 
even  from  Handel,  overwhelmed  as  he  was  with  debt  and 

The  end  was  perhaps  inevitable,  nor  in  the  interests 

^  Shaftesbury  Biographical  Sketch. 

^  Hervey,  Memoirs,  iii.  295.  ^  IVentworth  Papers,  p.  539. 

142  HANDEL 

of  art  much  to  be  deplored.  Opera  in  England  then,  as 
now,  was  an  exotic.  It  had  no  root  in  the  affections  of 
the  general  public  ;  it  merely  catered  for  the  whimsies  of 
a  pleasure-seeking  aristocracy.  None  save  a  very  select 
few  pretended  to  think  that  the  entertainment  was  any- 
thing more  than  a  social  festivity.  The  beaux  and  belles 
of  the  day  went  to  hear  Senesino  and  Farinelli,  just  as 
our  modern  grandees  go  to  hear  Melba  and  Tetrazzini,  and 
cared  little  or  nothing  what  music  they  listened  to.  The 
flame  of  partisanship  burnt  fiercely  for  a  while.  People 
quarrelled  passionately  over  rival  houses  and  rival  singers, 
but  the  very  excesses  into  which  their  frenzy  led  them 
brought  about  a  speedy  reaction. 

Sensible  people  like  Mrs.  Delany  realised  very  soon 
that  all  the  strife  and  partisanship  did  not  imply  any  real 
interest  in  music.  "  Our  operas,"  she  wrote  to  Swift, 
"  have  given  much  cause  of  dissension.  Men  and  women 
have  been  deeply  engaged,  and  no  debate  in  the  House  of 
Commons  has  been  urged  with  more  warmth.  The  dispute 
of  the  merits  of  the  composers  and  singers  is  carried  to  so 
great  a  height,  that  it  is  much  feared  by  all  true  lovers 
of  music  that  operas  will  be  quite  overturned.  I  own  I 
think  we  make  a  very  silly  figure  about  it."  ^  Nothing  is 
so  healthy  for  the  cause  of  art  as  discussions  and  debate 
or  even  a  good  hand-to-hand  fight,  when  the  difference 
of  opinion  springs  from  genuine  interest  and  enthusiasm. 
But  the  operatic  wars  of  the  eighteenth  century  were 
merely  the  squabbles  of  idle  children  over  their  play- 
things. A  new  toy  caught  their  eye,  and  their  once 
cherished  puppets  were  cast  upon  the  dust-heap.  The 
mournful  part  of  the  business  from  our  point  of  view  is 
that  one  of  the  puppets  was  a  man  of  genius. 

^  Delany,  Correspondence^  vol.  i. 


But  Handel  emerged  uninjured,  if  breathless,  from  the 
struggle.  The  mire  of  aristocratic  intrigue  had  not  sullied 
his  garments.  Even  in  that  murky  atmosphere  the  flame 
of  his  genius  burnt  clear  and  pure.  Whoever  had  cause 
to  blush,  he  had  none.  He  had  worked  loyally  in  the 
cause  of  art  through  all  dangers  and  difficulties,  and  he 
could  look  back  upon  those  anxious  years  of  toil  and 
endeavour  without  shame  or  regret.  He  had  cast  his 
pearls  before  swine,  and  had  seen  them  trampled  under 
foot.  He  had  learned  his  lesson  in  a  hard  school,  and  had 
paid  dearly  for  it.  At  last  it  was  over,  and  the  experience 
that  he  had  bought  at  so  ruinous  a  price  was  in  the  end 
to  lead  him  to  a  wider  immortality  than  any  that  could  be 
conferred  by  the  fickle  favour  of  courts  and  courtiers. 


AIX-LA-CHAPELLE  made  a  new  man  of  Handel ; 
indeed,  he  recovered  his  health  so  rapidly  under 
the  genial  influence  of  the  waters,  that  the  good  people  of 
the  place  were  inclined  to  believe  that  a  miracle  had  been 
wrought  on  behalf  of  their  famous  visitor.  While  he  was 
at  Aix,  Handel  seems  to  have  made  the  acquaintance  of 
some  honest  burghers  from  the  city  of  Elbing,  near  the 
Baltic  coast.  Elbing  was  preparing  to  celebrate  the  five- 
hundredth  anniversary  of  her  foundation,  and  Handel, 
whose  speedy  recovery  had  had  the  effect  of  putting  him 
into  an  unusually  amiable  frame  of  mind,  consented  to 
join  forces  with  a  local  musician  in  composing  a  cantata 
for  the  occasion.  Records  of  the  work  exist,  but  the 
music  has  unfortunately  disappeared.^ 

Another  story,  told  by  Coxe  in  his  Anecdotes  of  Handel, 
seems  to  refer  to  Handel's  "  cure "  at  Aix,  though  it  is 
difficult  to  make  it  fit  in  with  the  facts.  Frederick  the 
Great  was  on  his  way  to  the  baths,  and  hearing  that 
Handel  was  there  sent  a  messenger  to  say  that  he  wished 
to  see  him.  Presumably  the  message  was  couched,  or  at 
least  delivered,  in  what  Handel  considered  insolent  terms, 

^  Doering,  "  Die  Musik  im  Preussen."  {Monatshefte  fiir  Mtisikgeschichte, 
i.  I55-) 



at  any  rate  his  back  was  up  in  a  moment,  and  he  left  the 
place  a  few  days  before  the  arrival  of  the  King.  The  only 
objection  to  this  interesting  anecdote  is  that  Frederick 
was  not  at  xA.ix  nor  anywhere  in  its  neighbourhood  in 
the  year  1737.  His  only  visit  to  Aix,  which  he  thought 
"  le  pays  le  plus  sot  que  je  connaisse,"  took  place  in 
September  1741,  while  Handel  was  writing  The  Messiah 
in  London,  It  is  certainly  a  pity  that  Frederick  never 
happened  to  meet  Handel.  He  was  himself  a  musician, 
and  the  man  who  silenced  the  chatter  of  his  courtiers 
with  the  words :  "  Gentlemen,  the  great  Bach  has  arrived," 
could  hardly  have  failed  to  appreciate  Handel. 

Handel  left  Aix  in  October,  and  returned  to  England 
via  Flanders.  In  Lord  Shaftesbury's  BiograpJiical  Sketch 
there  is  an  anecdote  relating  to  the  journey  which  has  not, 
I  think,  been  printed  before :  "  His  recovery  was  so  com- 
plete that  in  his  return  thence  to  England  he  was  able 
to  play  long  voluntaries  upon  the  organ.  In  one  of  the 
great  towns  of  Flanders,  where  he  had  asked  permission 
to  play,  the  organist  attended  him,  not  knowing  who  he 
was,  and  seemed  struck  with  Mr.  Handel's  playing  when 
he  began.  But  when  he  heard  Mr.  Handel  lead  off  a 
fugue,  in  astonishment  he  ran  up  to  him,  and  embracing 
him  said,  '  You  can  be  no  other  but  the  great  Handel.'" 

Handel  reached  London  early  in  November,  "  greatly 
recovered  in  health."  ^ 

He  arrived  only  just  in  time  to  add  his  private  sorrow 
to  the  general  grief  of  the  nation  at  the  death  of  Queen 
Caroline,  who  expired  after  a  short  illness  on  the  20th  of 
November.  No  English  sovereign  was  ever  more  widely 
or  genuinely  mourned.  Over  her  coffin  king  and  clod- 
hopper   mingled    their    tears.      George    II    showed    his 

1  London  Daily  Post,  7th  November  1737. 

146  HANDEL 

sorrow  in  peculiarly  characteristic  fashion,  but  of  its 
sincerity  there  cannot  be  a  doubt.  Though  his  in- 
fidelities had  been  notorious,  his  respect  for  Caroline's 
talents  and  his  admiration  of  her  virtues  had  never 
wavered.  On  her  death-bed  she  entreated  him  to  marry 
again.  "  Non,  non,"  he  whimpered,  "j'aurai  des  mai- 
tresses."  "  Mon  Dieu,"  she  replied,  remembering  her  own 
experiences,  "  cela  n'empeche  pas." 

The  King  was  inconsolable  for  many  months  after  her 
death,  and  seems  to  have  been  a  prey  to  strange  super- 
stitions. Duchess  Sarah  tells  an  odd  story  of  his 
behaviour  at  the  card-table :  "  Some  queens  were  dealt 
to  him,  which  renewed  his  trouble  so  much,  and  put  him 
into  so  great  disorder,  that  the  Princess  Amelia  immedi- 
ately ordered  all  the  queens  to  be  taken  out  of  the  pack."  ^ 
The  King's  thoughts  ran  upon  ghosts  and  vampires.  Lord 
VVentworth  gives  a  curious  illustration  of  his  superstitious 
terror :  "  Saturday  night  between  one  and  two  o'clock,  the 
King  waked  out  of  a  dream  very  uneasy,  and  ordered  the 
vault,  where  the  Queen  is,  to  be  broken  open  immediately, 
and  have  the  coffin  also  opened ;  and  went  in  a  hackney 
chair  through  the  Horse  Guards  to  Westminster  Abbey, 
and  back  again  to  bed.  I  think  it  is  the  strangest  thing 
that  could  be."  - 

Handel  was  not  troubled  by  the  King's  childish  fancies, 
but  his  grief  was  scarcely  less  profound.  Caroline  was 
one  of  his  oldest  friends.  He  had  met  her  first  when 
they  were  children  together  at  the  court  of  Berlin,  He 
had  learnt  to  know  her  better  at  Hanover,  and  since  they 
had  been  in  England  she  had  always  been  his  staunchest 
patroness  and  supporter.     He  poured  forth  his  sorrow  in 

^  Correspondence  of  Sarah,  Duchess  of  Marlborough,  vol.  ii. 
-  Wentworth  Papers,  p.  538. 


the  marvellous  strains  of  the  Funeral  Anthem,  "  The 
ways  of  Zion  do  mourn,"  which  was  performed  at 
the  ceremony  in  Westminster  Abbey,  on  the  17th  of 
December,  a  noble  tribute  to  a  great  and  good  woman, 
which  for  sublimity  of  thought  and  expression  Handel 
himself  rarely  surpassed. 

Handel's  recent  experiences  in  the  arena  of  Italian 
opera  were  not  calculated  to  make  him  anxious  to  return 
to  the  fray.  But  beggars  cannot  be  choosers ;  his  debts 
were  still  unpaid,  and  his  creditors  were  pressing.  When 
therefore  he  was  approached  by  Heidegger,^  who  had 
gathered  together  the  wreck  and  remnant  of  the  two 
companies  that  had  failed  in  the  summer,  and  with  char- 
acteristic energy  had  started  a  season  at  the  King's 
Theatre,  he  felt  it  his  duty  to  enter  into  negotiations 
with  his  quondam  partner.  After  some  deliberation  it 
was  agreed  that  for  a  consideration  of  ;^iooo  Handel 
should  supply  Heidegger  with  two  new  operas,  and  should 
arrange  a  pasticcio  from  his  earlier  works.  It  must  have 
been  gall  and  wormwood  to  Handel  to  be  forced  once 
more  into  business  relations  with  the  man  who  had 
behaved  so  badly  to  him  at  a  time  when  he  most  needed 
friends,  but  Handel  was  nothing  if  not  conscientious,  and 
he  felt  that  his  own  feelings  must  give  way.  The  operas 
were  dashed  off  at  lightning  speed,  and  duly  produced, 

^  Heidegger  is  usually  supposed  to  have  been  responsible  for  the  season, 
as  the  advertisements  relative  to  the  subscription  that  appeared  in  the  news- 
papers were  signed  by  him,  but  Lord  Shaftesbury's  Biographical  Sketch 
distinctly  says  that  Handel  composed  Faramondo  and  Serse  "  for  the 
gentlemen  at  the  Haymarket,"  so  it  is  probable  that  Heidegger  was  backed 
by  a  board  of  aristocratic  directors  similar  to  that  presided  over  by  Lord 
Middlesex  in  1741.  Lord  Middlesex  himself  does  not  appear  to  have  begun 
to  dabble  in  management  until  1739,  when  Mrs.  Delany  mentions  that  he 
was  "  chief  undertaker  "  of  a  season  of  concerts  at  the  Haymarket  Theatre. 

148  HANDEL 

Faramondo  on  the  7th  of  January,  and  Serse  on  the  15th 
of  April  1738.  The  pasticcio  was  Alessandro  Severe, 
which  with  a  few  new  songs  and  a  new  and  very  fine 
overture  was  given  on  the  25th  of  February. 

Heidegger's  company  included  some  good  singers. 
Caffarelli,  a  contralto,  was  the  most  famous  of  them ;  but 
Francesina,  a  youthful  soprano  with  a  pretty  voice  and 
what  Burney  calls  "  a  lark-like  execution,"  and  Marchesini, 
called  La  Lucchesina,  were  both  of  them  artists  of  high 
quality.  Montagnana,  with  his  thundering  bass  voice, 
was  also  engaged.  Caffarelli  was  thought  by  many 
critics  to  be  superior  to  Farinelli,  but  he  did  not  make 
much  of  a  success  in  London.  He  is  said  to  have  been 
in  bad  health  during  his  sojourn  here,  and  he  came  at 
an  unfortunate  time — when  society  had  been  sated  with 
Italian  opera,  and  was  weary  of  the  endless  quarrels  and 
rivalries  which  seemed  to  be  its  inevitable  accompaniment.^ 

The  season  was  a  calamitous  one,  and  the  only  time 
that  the  theatre  was  full  was  on  the  20th  of  March,  when 
Handel  was  constrained  by  his  friends  to  take  a  "  benefit." 
It  is  easy  to  understand  how  distasteful  to  a  man  of  his 
independent  spirit  it  must  have  been  to  accept  a  favour 
of  this  kind,  but  circumstances  forbade  him  to  stand 
upon  his  dignity.  Del  P6,  who  was  still  one  of  his 
principal  creditors,  was  more  insistent  than  ever,  and  even 
threatened    the  composer  with  a  debtors'  prison.      The 

^  Caffarelli's  insolence  and  conceit  caused  him  to  be  as  heartily  disliked  as 
Farinelli  was  beloved  for  his  amiability.  He  lived  to  a  good  old  age,  and 
retained  his  voice  almost  to  the  last.  Burney  heard  him  at  Naples  in  1770, 
when  he  was  sixty-seven.  "Though  his  voice  was  thin,"  he  remarks,  "it 
was  easy  to  imagine,  from  what  he  was  still  able  to  do,  that  his  voice  and 
talents  had  been  of  the  very  first  class."  He  was  then  living  in  a  sumptuous 
house  of  his  own  building,  over  the  door  of  which  was  inscribed  the  legend, 
"  Amphion  Thebas,  ego  domum." 


"  benefit "  had  the  effect  of  stopping  his  greedy  mouth. 
It  realised  a  large  sum  of  money,  according  to  Burney 
£800,  according  to  Mainvvaring  ^1500,  but  at  any  rate 
enough  to  stave  off  the  more  pressing  claims  and  to  give 
the  composer  time  to  look  around  him.  Another  graceful 
compliment  was  paid  to  his  genius  about  this  time,  in  the 
erection  of  a  marble  statue  of  him  by  the  rising  young 
sculptor  Roubillac,  or  Roubiliac,  as  he  is  usually  called  in 
English,  in  Vauxhall  Gardens,  a  popular  place  of  resort, 
which  had  been  opened  in  1732,  where  Handel's  music 
was  often  performed.^ 

After  the  close  of  the  opera  season  on  the  5th  of  June, 
Handel  probably  left  London.  Between  the  23rd  of  July 
and  the  27th  of  September  he  was  engaged  upon  the 
composition  of  Saii/,  the  libretto  of  which  is  believed  to 
have  been  the  work  of  Charles  Jennens,-  who  later 
adapted  Milton's  L Allegro  ed  il  Penseroso  for  Handel, 
and  furnished  him  with  the  text  of  TJie  Messiah.  Handel 
had  a  sincere  regard  for  Jennens,  and  often  stayed  at  his 
country  house  at  Gopsall  in  Leicestershire.  If  Jennens 
wrote  Saul,  it  is  likely  enough  that  he  invited  Handel  to 
spend  the  summer  with  him,  the  advantage  to  librettist 
and  composer  alike  of  being  under  the  same  roof  being 
undeniable.  Jennens  was  one  of  those  men  whose  char- 
acter is  very  difficult  to  reconstruct  from  contemporary 

^  This  statue,  after  passing  through  many  hands,  is  now  the  property  of 
Mr.  Alfred  Littleton,  the  head  of  the  firm  of  Novello  &  Co.  It  stands  in  the 
entrance  hall  of  Messrs.  Novello's  beautiful  new  place  of  business  in  Wardour 

^  A  letter  of  Handel's  to  Jennens  is  extant,  written  in  1735,  acknowledging 
the  receipt  of  an  oratorio  of  which  he  writes  :  "  What  I  could  read  of  it  in 
haste  gave  me  a  great  deal  of  satisfaction. "  There  is  no  reason  for  doubting 
that  the  work  referred  to  was  Saul,  the  next  in  order  of  Handel's  oratorios, 
the  authorship  of  which  was  never  acknowledged. 


evidence.     He  was  rich,  generous  and  eccentric,  and  had 
an  excellent  conceit  of  himself.     He  was  surrounded  by 
parasites  who  flattered  him    and   often    lured    him    into 
making  a  fool  of  himself  by  writing  about  things  that  he 
did  not  understand,  as,  for  instance,  in  his  controversy  with 
Dr.  Johnson   and    George    Steevens   about  Shakespeare. 
At  the  same  time  he  was  a  staunch  friend  and  a  bene- 
volent and  hospitable  neighbour,  besides  being  a  man  of 
considerable  culture.     During  his  quarrel  with  Steevens  a 
friend  of  his  wrote :  "  I  assert  that  Mr.  Jennens  is  a  man 
of  abilities ;    is  conversant  in  the  Polite  Arts ;    that  he 
understands  Musick,  Poetry  and   Painting.     I  appeal  to 
the  catalogue  of  his   Pictures,  which  bear  all  the  living 
testimony  that  Pictures  can  bear  of  original  and  intrinsic 
merit.     His  taste  in  Musick  is  still  less  disputable — the 
compilation  of  The  Messiah  has  been  ever  attributed  to 
him.     Handel  generally  consulted  him,  and  to  the  time  of 
his  death  lived   with  him   in  the  strictest  intimacy  and 
regard.     Was  Handel  so  mean  and  despicable  as  to  offer 
incense  at  the  shrine  of  Ignorance?"'      Jennens  loved 
display.     In  his  youth  the  splendour   of  his  household 
earned  him  the  nickname  of  "  Solyman  the  Magnificent." 
All  through  his  life  he  made  a  point  of  doing  things  in 
the  grand  style.     If  he  wanted  to  go  from  his  town  house 
in  Great  Ormond   Street  to  call  on  his  printer  in  Red 
Lion  Passage,  he  must  needs  travel  with  four  servants 
behind  his  carriage.      When  he  alit,  a  footman  walked 
before  him   up  the  paved  passage,  to  kick  oyster-shells 
and    other   impediments   out    of   his   way.      At    Gopsall 
Handel  had  the  advantage  of  tranquillity,  comfort   and 
congenial  society,  for  Jennens  was  a  bachelor  like  himself. 
It  is  perhaps  worth  noting  that  fifty  years  after  Handel's 

^  Nichols,  Literary  Anecdotes  of  the  Eighteenth  Century,  vol.  iii. 


death  a  tradition  existed  to  the  effect  that  some  at  any 
rate  of  his  oratorios  were  composed  at  Gopsall,  A  local 
parson  contributed  the  following  note  to  Nichols's  Literary 
Anecdotes:  "  I  know  not  whether  you  are  ^ware  that  there 
is  a  probability,  I  think  almost  an  immediate  proof,  that 
Handel's  oratorios  took  their  rise  in  this  county.  The 
rich  Mr.  Jennens  of  Gopsall  was  a  man  of  great  piety, 
beneficence  and  taste  in  the  fine  arts.  He  built  a  mag- 
nificent house,  and  in  it  a  beautiful  chapel,  in  which  he 
read  prayers  to  his  family  daily.  Handel  (who,  you  know, 
loved  good  living)  was  often  his  guest,  as  also  Dr.  Bentley 
of  Nailston,  his  neighbour,  nephew  of  the  great  Bentley. 
1  have  heard  that  the  idea  of  the  oratorios  was  Mr. 
Jennens's,  and  Dr.  Bentley  furnished  the  words."  If  Dr. 
Bentley,  who  by  the  way  was  a  scholar  of  some  considera- 
tion and  his  famous  uncle's  literary  executor,^  had  any 
hand  in  the  production  of  Saul,  the  world  has  good  reason 
to  be  grateful  to  him  ;  and  still  more  so  if  he  was  in  any 
way  responsible  for  Israel  in  Egypt,  which  Handel  began 
four  days  after  he  had  finished  Saul.  It  would  be 
interesting  to  know  what  first  led  Handel  to  undertake 
the  composition  of  his  gigantic  epic,  so  different  in  aim 
and  structure  from  any  of  his  previous  works.  It  is  plain 
that  originally  he  had  no  idea  of  writing  anything  in  the 
received  oratorio  form.  He  began  with  what  is  now  the 
second  part,  the  autograph  of  which  is  headed  "  Moses' 

^  He  was  christened  Richard  after  his  uncle,  but  is  often  confused  with 
another  of  the  great  Bentley's  nephews,  Thomas,  whom  Pope  attacked  in  the 
Dimciad : — 

"  Bentley  his  mouth  with  classic  flattery  opes 
And  the  puff'd  orator  bursts  out  in  tropes." 

Thomas  Bentley  was  a  friend  of  Byrom's,  and  wrote  him  amusing  letters 
from  abroad,  which  are  published  in  Byrom's  Remains. 

I  5  2  HANDEL 

Song,  Exodus,  chapter  xv."  Apparently  he  intended 
something  in  the  nature  of  an  anthem,  but  the  subject 
fascinated  him,  and  when  he  had  finished  the  second  part, 
he  wrote  the  first  part  as  a  kind  of  prelude.  Saul  and 
Israel  were  both  produced  during  the  following  year  at 
the  King's  Theatre,  which  Handel  hired  from  Heidegger 
for  his  oratorio  concerts — Saul  on  January  i6,  and  Israel 
on  April  4,  1739. 

In  the  case  of  Saul,  Handel,  who  like  many  other 
great  composers  was  accused  by  his  contemporaries  of 
a  passion  for  mere  noise,  took  pains  to  add  a  special 
touch  of  dignity  to  the  famous  Dead  March.  "  I  hear," 
wrote  young  Lord  Wentworth  to  his  father,  "that  Mr. 
Handel  has  borrowed  from  the  Duke  of  Argyll  a  pair 
of  the  largest  kettle-drums  in  the  Tower ;  so  to  be  sure  it 
will  be  most  excessive  noisy  with  a  bad  set  of  singers. 
I  doubt  it  will  not  retrieve  his  former  losses."^  Saul, 
however,  was  on  the  whole  a  success,  being  given  six 
times  during  the  season.  Israel,  on  the  other  hand,  seems 
to  have  been  above  the  heads  of  the  audiences  of  that  day. 
After  the  first  performance,  it  was  only  thrice  repeated, 
and  in  a  form  altered  to  fit  it  more  harmoniously 
to  the  taste  of  the  day,  according  to  the  advertisement  : 
"  shortened  and  intermixed  with  songs."  It  must  have  been 
a  bitter  pill  to  Handel  to  be  compelled  to  mutilate  his  great 
work  to  suit  the  artistic  depravity  of  London  audiences. 
The  songs  introduced  were  not  the  adaptations  of  Italian 
airs  to  Biblical  words  that  are  now  occasionally  given 
in  performances  of  the  oratorio,  but  popular  airs  from 
his  earlier  works  and  some  new  Italian  songs  apparently 
written  for  the  occasion,  which  were  thrust  into  Israel 
without  the  semblance  of  any  appropriateness.     A  further 

1  Wentworth  Papers,  p.  543. 


alteration  was  the  introduction  of  the  Funeral  Anthem, 
which  was  performed  at  the  beginning  of  the  oratorio, 
the  words  being  altered  so  as  to  apply  to  the  death  of 
Joseph.  In  spite  of  these  almost  cynical  concessions  to 
popular  taste,  Israel  did  not  please.  A  few  voices,  how- 
ever, cried  in  the  desert.  Two  anonymous  admirers 
poured  forth  their  enthusiasm  in  letters  to  the  London 
Daily  Post}  but  the  general  public  was  not  to  be  beguiled. 

By  the  middle  of  April  the  new  oratorios  seem  to  have 
exhausted  their  powers  of  attraction,  and  Handel  fell 
back  upon  a  different  kind  of  entertainment.  On  the 
26th  an  advertisement  appeared  in  the  London  Daily  Post 
to  this  effect:  "On  Tuesday  next,  ist  May,  will  be  per- 
formed, at  the  King's  Theatre  in  the  Haymarket,  a 
dramatical  composition  c2l\{q^  Jtipiter  in  Argos^  intermixed 
with  choruses,  and  two  concertos  on  the  organ."  What 
Jupiter  in  Argos  exactly  was  is  now  difficult  to  deter- 
mine. The  autograph  has  disappeared,  all  save  the  last 
leaf,  which  is  preserved  in  the  Fitzwilliam  Library  at 
Cambridge,  and  bears  the  inscription :  "  Fine  dell'  opera 
Jupiter  in  Argos,  April  24,  1739.  G.  F.  Handel." 
Although  Handel  called  it  an  opera,  the  terms  used  in 
the  advertisement  point  rather  to  its  being  something 
of  the  same  kind  as  Parnasso  in  Fcsta,  which  was  still 
far  from  having  lost  its  popularity.  Probably  it  was  a 
pasticcio,  hastily  put  together  to  meet  the  emergency, 
but  no  proof  of  its  having  been  actually  performed  can 
be  adduced. 

If  the  season  as  a  whole  had  turned  out  a  failure,  it 
is  hardly  fair  to  lay  all  the  blame  upon  London  society. 
The  political  excitement  of  the  time  was  unfavourable  to 
music  or  to  art  of  any  kind.     War  was  in  the  air,  and 

'  See  Appendix  B. 

154  HANDEL 

Bellona  elbowed  Polyhymnia  from  the  field.  John  Bull 
had  awoke  from  his  long  sleep,  and  wanted  to  go  out 
and  fight  somebody. 

Walpole  and  his  peace  policy  had  ruled  the  roost  for 
thirty  years.  He  had  made  England  the  greatest  com- 
mercial nation  in  the  world ;  he  had  doubled  her  income, 
and  given  her  peace  and  prosperity.  But  in  a  moment  he 
and  his  benefits  were  forgotten.  The  lust  of  war  de- 
scended upon  the  nation,  and  all  peaceful  interests  bent 
before  the  storm  of  martial  ardour. 

The  "  Patriots,"  as  the  Opposition  called  themselves, 
were  always  on  the  look  out  for  sticks  wherewith  to  beat 
Walpole.  They  found  one  ready  to  their  hand  in  the 
supposed  aggression  of  our  historic  enemy,  Spain.  We 
were,  as  usual,  entirely  in  the  wrong.  In  defiance  of  the 
Treaty  of  Utrecht,  our  traders  had  for  years  been  carrying 
on  a  roaring  trade — largely  in  slaves — with  the  Spanish 
colonies.  In  vain  the  Spanish  authorities  had  endeavoured 
to  put  some  check  upon  this  vast  system  of  smuggling. 
From  time  to  time  brushes  with  our  privateers  occurred, 
and  now  and  then  Englishmen  found  their  way  into 
Spanish  prisons.  After  all,  Spain  was  only  asserting  her 
just  rights,  if  occasionally  in  a  high-handed  and  arbitrary 
manner.  But  it  was  easy  for  Pulteney  and  his  "  Patriots  " 
to  make  out  a  case  against  her.  Popular  passion  was 
fanned  by  the  usual  trickery,  and  the  excitement  reached 
its  height  when  a  master  mariner  named  Jenkins  was 
produced  at  the  bar  of  the  House  of  Commons.  Jenkins 
had  a  thrilling  story  to  tell.  Some  years  before,  his  vessel 
had  been  boarded  off  Havana  by  Spanish  revenue  officers. 
Innocent  as  a  babe  as  he  was,  he  had  been  shamefully 
maltreated.  He  had  been  hanged  at  the  yard-arm  and 
cut  down  half-dead.     He  had  been  slashed  with  cutlasses 


and  his  left  ear  had  been  torn  off  by  a  Spanish  miscreant, 
who  flung"  it  in  his  face,  bidding  him  carry  it  home  to 
King  George,  "  In  that  supreme  moment,"  concluded 
Jenkins  with  dramatic  solemnity,  "  I  commended  my  soul 
to  God  and  my  cause  to  my  country."  The  phrase  flew 
like  wild-fire  through  the  country  The  war  fever  seized  all 
classes  alike.  Walpole  vainly  struggled  for  peace.  The 
country  was  against  him,  and  it  was  a  case  of  yielding 
to  their  will  or  resigning  office.  He  chose  the  former, 
and  declared  war  with  Spain. 

London  threw  its  cap  into  the  air,  and  roared  huzza  ! 
with  all  its  thousand  throats.  The  city  blazed  with  flags 
and  pennons,  and  bells  rang  defiance  from  every  steeple. 
Throngs  of  vengeance-breathing  heroes  paraded  the  streets, 
and  the  Prince  of  Wales  joined  with  the  mob  at  Temple 
Bar  in  drinking  success  to  the  campaign.  While  the 
frenzy  reigned,  Handel  sat  gloomily  in  his  empty  theatre. 
It  was  useless  to  struggle  against  the  tide  of  popular 
feeling.  We  who  remember  the  opening  days  of  the 
Boer  War  can  fully  realise  the  situation.  There  was 
nothing  to  be  done  but  wait  till  the  martial  enthusiasm 
of  the  country  had  expended  itself  in  idle  vapouring,  and 
society  returned  once  more  to  its  ordinary  avocations. 

In  the  autumn,  Handel,  whose  losses  of  late  had  been 
severe,  clipped  the  wings  of  his  ambition  and  moved  to 
the  theatre  in  Lincoln's  Inn  Fields,  where,  on  the  17th 
of  November  1739,  he  produced  his  setting  of  Dryden's 
Ode  for  St.  Cecilia's  Day,  which  seems  to  have  pleased  his 
patrons,  since  it  was  repeated  several  times  during  the 
season  in  conjunction  with  either  Alexander's  Feast  or 
Acis  and  Galatea.  Doubtless  its  success  would  have  been 
greater  than  it  was,  but  during  that  winter  the  elements 
fought  against    Handel,  and    owing   to  an  exceptionally 

156  HANDEL 

severe  frost  he  was  compelled  to  close  his  theatre  from 
the  20th  of  December  to  the  21st  of  February.  It  is  easy 
to  believe  that  in  Handel's  days  theatres  were  very  far 
from  being  the  cosy  luxurious  temples  of  amusement 
that  they  now  are,  and  the  Lincoln's  Inn  Fields  theatre 
was  notoriously  ill  built  and  uncomfortable.  Handel  did 
all  that  he  could.  His  advertisements  in  the  London 
Daily  Post  are  almost  pathetic  :  "  Particular  care  has  been 
taken  to  have  the  House  surveyed  and  secured  against 
the  cold,  by  having  curtains  placed  before  every  door, 
and  constant  fire  will  be  kept  in  the  House  till  the  time  of 
performance,"  But  it  was  useless  to  expect  people  to  brave 
the  terrors  of  an  Arctic  temperature  in  order  to  listen  to 
good  music.  Even  in  favourable  weather  it  was  as  much 
as  he  could  do  to  scrape  together  an  audience,  and  when 
the  frost  set  in,  the  case  was  hopeless.  For  some  reason 
best  known  to  the  clerk  of  the  weather,  the  winters  in  the 
eighteenth  century  were  decidedly  more  severe  than  they 
are  in  our  days,  or  at  any  rate  people  made  far  more  fuss 
about  them.  Owing  to  the  arches  of  old  London  Bridge 
getting  choked  with  ice,  it  was  by  no  means  uncommon 
for  the  Thames  "  above  bridge  "  to  be  frozen  so  hard  that 
a  "  Frost  Fair,"  or  "  Blanket  Fair "  as  it  was  sometimes 
called,  could  be  held  upon  it.  When  this  happened,  as  it 
did  in  the  winter  of  1739-40,  London  gave  itself  up  to 
a  kind  of  impromptu  carnival.  The  Thames  for  the  time 
being  was  a  debatable  land,  over  which  none  of  the 
recognised  authorities  cared  to  exercise  any  jurisdiction. 
Everybody  did  what  he  liked,  and  the  fun  was  as  fast  as 
it  was  furious.  It  was  the  right  thing  for  the  aristocracy 
to  come  down  and  join  in  the  people's  sports  at  "  Frost 
Fair."  Charles  II  set  the  fashion  in  the  great  frost  of 
1684,   and    in    17 16    George   II,   then    Prince   of  Wales, 

':fi'  Pi 


followed  his  example.  In  1740  the  frozen  Thames  was 
a  little  town  of  tents  and  booths.  Coaches  plied  between 
Lambeth  and  London  Bridge,  and  every  form  of  festivity 
and  diversion  was  practised,  the  roasting  of  oxen  being 
of  course  a  special  feature.  As  usual,  merriment  and 
misery  went  hand  in  hand,  for  the  distress  among  the 
lower  classes  must  have  been  very  severe.  But  London 
was  prosperous  and  charitable,  and  there  are  many  records 
of  benevolent  endeavour  to  relieve  the  pressing  necessities 
of  those  whom  the  frost  had  robbed  of  employment. 

It  would  have  needed  a  harder  frost  even  than  that  of 
1740  to  check  the  flow  of  Handel's  inspiration.  While 
London  was  disporting  itself  upon  the  icebound  Thames 
he  was  busily  setting  to  music  a  strange  libretto,  concocted 
by  his  friend  Jennens  out  of  Milton's  U Allegro  and  // 
Penseroso.  Not  content  with  boiling  down  the  two 
poems  into  a  singularly  inharmonious  whole,  he  added 
a  coda  of  his  own,  entitled  //  Moderato,  in  which  the 
virtues  of  moderation  are  celebrated  in  numbers  which 
would  sound  awkward  and  ungainly  in  any  company, 
and  by  the  side  of  Milton's  sonorous  lines  seem  doubly 
pedestrian.  The  libretto,  however,  inspired  Handel,  who 
wrote  to  it  some  of  the  most  romantic  and  picturesque 
music  that  he  ever  composed.  Handel's  L Allegro  in 
its  turn  inspired  a  nameless  bard,  who,  after  hearing  it 
performed,  burst  into  verse  of  the  following  quality: — 

"  If  e'er  Arion's  music  calmed  the  floods, 
And  Orpheus  ever  drew  the  dancing  woods, 
Why  do  not  British  trees  and  forests  throng 
To  hear  the  sweeter  notes  of  Handel's  song  ? "  ' 

Unfortunately  for  Handel    not    only  did    the    British 
trees  and  forests  refuse  to  throng  to  his  concerts,  but  the 

^  Gentle?)ian  s  Magazine,  May  1 740. 

158  HANDEL 

British  lords  and  ladies  as  well.  The  aristocratic  cabal 
against  him  and  his  music  was  as  bitter  and  as  powerful 
as  ever,  and  at  the  Lincoln's  Inn  Fields  theatre  empty 
benches  were  the  rule  rather  than  the  exception.  But  his 
pluck  was  inexhaustible.  During  the  next  season  he 
dropped  sacred  oratorio  altogether,  save  for  a  single  per- 
formance of  Saul,  and  offered  his  patrons  only  works  of  a 
lighter  cast.  In  his  determination  to  succeed  he  even 
fell  back  upon  his  old  love,  Italian  opera.  Despite  the 
fact  that  to  those  who  remembered  Faustina,  Cuzzoni, 
Senesino,  and  the  great  singers  of  the  past,  his  company 
must  have  seemed,  to  borrow  Lady  Bristol's  graceful 
expression,  "  a  set  of  scrubbs,"  he  produced  a  two-act 
operetta, /m^;?^(?  (22nd  November  1740),  with  the  composi- 
tion of  which  he  had  amused  himself  two  years  before 
in  the  intervals  of  writing  Saul,  and  wrote  a  new  opera, 
Deidamia,  to  a  libretto  by  his  old  enemy  Rolli,  which  was 
performed  for  the  first  time  on  the  loth  of  January  1741. 
All  was  in  vain.  Serious  music  was  a  drug  in  the  market. 
The  Beggars  Opera,  The  Dragon  of  Wantley,  and  their 
thousand  and  one  successors  had  revolutionised  popular 
taste  in  music,  just  as  Hogarth  had  revolutionised  it  in 
art.  Handel  owned  himself  defeated,  and  his  defeat  was 
embittered  by  the  apologetic  attitude  taken  up  by  some 
who  called  themselves  his  friends.  On  the  4th  of  April 
1 741,  the  London  Daily  Post  published  a  portentous 
rigmarole  singed  J.  B.,  in  which  a  kind  of  attempt  is  made 
to  recommend  Handel  to  the  good  graces  of  the  aristo- 
cratic ignoramuses  who  had  been  doing  their  best  to  ruin 
him.  "  I  wish,"  writes  the  amiable  J.  B.,  "  that  I  could 
persuade  the  gentlemen  of  figure  and  weight,  who  have 
taken  offence  at  any  part  of  this  great  man's  conduct  (for 
a  great  man  he  must  be  in  the  musical  world,  whatever 


misfortunes  may  now,  too  late,  say  to  the  contrary),  I 
wish  I  could  persuade  them,  I  say,  to  take  him  back  into 
favour,  and  relieve  him  from  the  cruel  persecution  of 
those  little  vermin,  who,  taking  advantage  of  their  dis- 
pleasure, pull  down  even  his  bills  as  fast  as  he  has  put 
them  up,  and  use  a  thousand  other  little  acts  to  injure  and 
distress  him." 

What  Handel  thought — and  probably  said — of  a 
begging  letter  of  this  kind  can  be  better  imagined  than 
described.  Nothing  was  farther  from  his  thoughts  than 
apologies  or  concession.  He  had  given  his  best  to 
England,  and  England  would  have  none  of  it.  But  he 
had  another  string  to  his  bow.  In  the  hour  of  his  defeat 
he  bethought  him  of  the  sister  isle,  whence  warm  invita- 
tions from  many  good  friends  had  often  reached  him. 
The  people  of  his  choice  would  have  none  of  him,  and  he 
turned  in  despair  to  the  Gentiles.  He  shook  the  dust  of 
London  from  his  feet,  and  prepared  for  a  visit  to  Dublin. 

HANDEL  IN  IRELAND,  1741-1742 

WILLIAM  CAVENDISH,  fourth  Duke  of  Devon- 
shire and  Lord  Lieutenant  of  Ireland,  was  one 
of  those  amiable  and  accomplished  peers  immortalised  by 
the  muse  of  Sir  William  Gilbert,  who  spend  their  existence 
in  doing  nothing  in  particular  and  doing  it  very  well. 
His  sole  claim  to  immortality  rests  upon  the  fact  that 
he  invited  Handel  to  Dublin.  The  rest  of  his  blameless 
and  respectable  career  has  faded  into  the  shadows  of  the 
past.  His  Lord  Lieutenancy  seems  on  the  whole  to  have 
been  a  success.  He  was  rich,  and  spent  his  money 
generously.  He  built  a  quay  in  Dublin  and  beautified 
the  city  in  other  ways.  It  probably  did  not  lie  within  his 
power  to  do  much  towards  ameliorating  the  lot  of  the 
deeply  injured  and  suffering  people  whom  he  ruled — the 
Home  Government  kept  too  tight  a  hand  upon  him  for 
that.  As  to  his  private  life,  his  obsequious  biographer 
records  with  proper  enthusiasm  that  "  he  generally  con- 
versed with  his  friends  and  neighbours  with  that  cheerful- 
ness and  condescension,  that  bespoke  the  truly  great 
man  " ;  but  a  pleasanter  idea  of  what  the  man  really  was 
is  given  in  a  story  of  Sir  Robert  Walpole's  brother 
Horatio,  who,  when  asked  what  he  thought  of  Devonshire 

House,   replied:    "Why,   I   think   it   something   like   the 

1 60 


master ;  plain  and  good  without,  but  one  of  the  best 
inside  houses  in  Britain." '^  Whatever  were  his  faults  or 
virtues,  the  Duke  appreciated  Handel,  and  it  was  in 
response  to  a  definite  invitation  from  Dublin  Castle  that 
Handel  started  for  John  Bull's  other  island. 

He  left  London  during  the  first  week  of  November 
1 741,  carrying  with  him  his  completed  Messiah,  which  he 
had  begun  on  the  22nd  of  August  and  finished  on  the 
14th  of  September.  Burney,  as  a  boy  of  fifteen,  saw  him 
at  Chester,  and  his  story,  though  it  has  often  been  quoted 
before,  is  too  good  to  be  omitted : — 

"When  Handel  went  through  Chester  on  his  way  to 
Ireland  in  the  year  1741,  I  was  at  the  public  school  in 
that  city  and  very  well  remember  seeing  him  smoke  a 
pipe  over  a  dish  of  coffee  at  the  Exchange  Coffee-House ; 
for,  being  extremely  anxious  to  see  so  extraordinary  a 
man,  I  watched  him  narrowly  as  long  as  he  remained  in 
Chester ;  which,  on  account  of  the  wind  being  unfavourable 
for  his  embarking  at  Parkgate,  was  several  days.  During 
this  time  he  applied  to  Mr.  Baker  the  organist,  my  first 
music  master,  to  know  whether  there  were  any  choirmen 
in  the  Cathedral  who  could  sing  at  sight,  as  he  wished  to 
prove  some  books  that  had  been  hastily  transcribed  by 
trying  the  choruses  which  he  intended  to  perform  in 
Ireland.  Mr.  Baker  mentioned  some  of  the  most  likely 
singers  then  in  Chester,  and  among  the  rest  a  printer  of 
the  name  of  Janson,  who  had  a  good  bass  voice  and  was 
one  of  the  best  musicians  in  the  choir.  A  time  was  fixed 
for  the  private  rehearsal  at  the  Golden  Falcon,  where 
Handel  was  quartered  ;  but  alas  !  on  trial  of  the  chorus  in 
The  Messiah^  'And  with  His  stripes  we  are  healed,'  poor 
Janson,  after  repeated  attempts,  failed  so  egregiously  that 

1  Grove,  Lives  of  the  Dukes  of  Devonshire,  1 764. 


Handel  let  loose  his  great  bear  upon  him,  and,  after 
swearing  in  four  or  five  different  languages,  cried  out  in 
broken  English :  '  You  scoundrel,  did  you  not  tell  me 
that  you  could  sing  at  sight  ? ' 

" '  Yes,  sir,'  says  the  printer,  '  and  so  I  can,  but  not  at 
first  sight.' " 

The  contrary  winds  still  continuing,  Handel  left 
Chester  and  proceeded  to  Holyhead,  whence  he  contrived 
at  last  to  cross  to  Dublin.  He  arrived  at  his  destination 
on  the  1 8th  of  November,^  and  established  himself  in 
a  house  in  Abbey  Street.  His  company  of  singers  and 
players  soon  began  to  assemble.  Maclaine,  the  organist, 
he  had  brought  with  him.  Signora  Avolio  arrived  on  the 
24th.  Mrs.  Gibber  was  already  in  Dublin,  where  for  some 
time  past  she  had  been  turning  everybody's  head  as  Polly 
Peachum  in  The  Beggar  s  Opera.  His  old  friend  Dubourg 
the  violinist  was  already  established  in  Dublin.  Handel 
opened  his  season  on  the  23rd  of  December  with  a 
performance  of  V Allegro,  II  Penseroso  ed  il  Moderato, 
together  with  the  usual  allowance  of  concertos,  given  in 
the  recently  built  hall  in  Fishamble  Street.^     A  report  of 

^"Last  Wednesday  the  celebrated  Dr,  Handel  arrived  here  in  the 
Packet  Boat  from  Holyhead,  a  Gentleman  universally  known  by  his  excellent 
Compositions  in  all  kinds  of  Musick,  and  particularly  for  his  Te  Deum, 
Jubilate,  Anthems,  and  other  compositions  in  Church  Musick  (of  which  for 
some  years  past  have  principally  consisted  the  Entertainments  in  the  Round 
Church,  which  have  so  greatly  contributed  to  support  the  Charity  of  Mercer's 
Hospital),  to  perform  his  Oratorios,  for  which  purpose  he  hath  engaged  the 
above  Mr.  Maclaine  (mentioned  in  the  preceding  paragraph)  his  Wife  and 
several  others  of  the  best  performers  in  the  Musical  Way."  Faulkner s 
Journal,  2ist  November  1741. 

^  Fishamble  Street  is  situated  in  a  quarter  which,  though  now  fallen  from 
its  high  estate,  was  at  that  time  highly  fashionable.  Neal's  Music  Hall  was 
first  opened  to  the  public  on  2nd  October  1741.  Many  years  afterwards  it  was 
converted  into  a  theatre.  In  1850  it  was,  according  to  Rockstro,  "  a  neglected 
old  building  with  a  wooden  porch."       It  has  now  totally  disappeared. 


the  proceedings  only  appeared  in  Faulkner  s  Jo7irnal\ 
"  Last  Wednesday,  Mr.  Handel  had  his  first  oratorio  at 
Mr.  Neal's  Musick  Hall  in  Fishamble  Street,  which  was 
crowded  with  a  more  numerous  and  polite  audience  than 
ever  was  seen  upon  the  like  occasion.  The  performance 
was  superior  to  anything  of  the  kind  in  the  kingdom 
before,  and  our  nobility  and  gentry,  to  shew  their  taste 
for  all  kinds  of  genius,  expressed  their  great  satisfaction 
and  have  already  given  all  imaginable  encouragement  to 
this  grand  musick."  Handel's  satisfaction  equalled  that 
of  his  audience,  and  a  few  days  later  he  wrote  in  high 
spirits  to  Jennens  : — 

Dublin,  2gih  Dece?iiber  i^^i 
"  S"^- — It  was  with  the  greatest  Pleasure  I  saw  the 
Continuation  of  your  kindness  by  the  Lines  you  was 
pleased  to  send  me,  in  order  to  be  prefix'd  to  your 
Oratorio  Messiah,  which  I  set  to  Musick  before  I  left 
England.  I  am  emboldened,  Sir,  by  the  generous 
Concern  you  please  to  take  in  relation  to  my  affairs,  to 
give  you  an  account  of  the  Success  I  have  met  here.  The 
Nobility  did  me  the  honour  to  make  amongst  themselves 
a  Subscription  for  6  Nights,  which  did  fill  a  Room  of 
600  Persons,  so  that  I  needed  not  to  sell  one  single  ticket 
at  the  Door,  and  without  Vanity  the  Performance  was 
received  with  a  general  Approbation.  Sig"-  Avolio,  which 
I  brought  with  me  from  London,  pleases  extraordinary. 
I  have  found  another  Tenor  Voice  which  gives  great 
Satisfaction,  the  Basses  and  Counter  Tenors  are  very 
good,  and  the  rest  of  the  Chorus  Singers  (by  my  Direction) 
do  exceedingly  well.  As  for  the  Instruments  they  are 
really  excellent,  Mr.  Dubourgh  being  at  the  Head  of  them, 
and  the  Musick  sounds  delightfully  in  this  charming 
Room,  which  puts  me  in  good  Spirits  (and  my  Health 

1 64  HANDEL 

being  so  good)  that  I  exert  myself  on  my  Organ  with 
more  than  usual  success. 

"  I  open'd  with  the  Allegro,  Penseroso,  and  Moderato, 
and  I  assure  you  that  the  words  of  the  Moderato  are  vastly 
admired.  The  Audience  being  composed  (besides  the 
Flower  of  Ladies  of  Distinction  and  other  People  of  the 
greatest  Quality)  of  so  many  Bishops,  Deans,  Heads  of 
the  Colledge,  the  most  eminent  People  in  the  Law,  as  the 
Chancellor,  Auditor  General,  etc.  etc.,  all  which  are  very 
much  taken  with  the  Poetry,  so  that  I  am  desired  to 
perform  it  again  the  next  time.  I  cannot  sufficiently 
express  the  kind  treatment  I  receive  here,  but  the  Polite- 
ness of  this  generous  Nation  cannot  be  unknown  to  you, 
so  I  let  you  judge  of  the  satisfaction  I  enjoy,  passing  my 
time  with  honour,  profit  and  pleasure.  They  propose 
already  to  have  some  more  performances,  when  the  6 
nights  of  the  Subscription  are  over,  and  my  Lord  Duke 
the  Lord  Lieutenant  (who  is  always  present  with  all  his 
Family  on  those  Nights)  will  easily  obtain  a  longer  Per- 
mission for  me  by  His  Majesty,  so  that  I  shall  be  obliged 
to  make  my  stay  here  longer  than  I  thought.  One  request 
I  must  make  to  you,  which  is  that  you  would  insinuate  my 
most  devoted  Respects  to  my  Lord  and  my  Lady  Shaftes- 
bury ;  you  know  how  much  their  kind  protection  is  precious 
to  me.  Sir  William  Knatchbull  will  find  here  my  respect- 
ful Compliments.  You  will  increase  my  Obligations  if  by 
occasion  you  will  present  my  humble  service  to  some 
other  Patrons  and  friends  of  mine.  I  expect  with  im- 
patience the  Favour  of  your  News  concerning  your  Health 
and  Welfare,  of  which  I  take  a  real  share.  As  for  the 
news  of  your  Operas  I  need  not  trouble  you,  for  all  the 
Town  is  full  of  their  ill  success  by  a  number  of  Letters  from 
your  quarters  to  the  People  of  Quality  here,  and  I  can't 


help   saying   but   that  it   furnishes  great   Diversion   and 

"  The  first  Opera  ^  I  heard  myself  before  I  left  London, 
and  it  made  me  very  merry  all  along  my  journey,  and  of 
the  second  Opera,  called  Penelope^  a  certain  nobleman 
writes  very  jocosely,  '  II  faut  que  je  dise  avec  Harlequin, 
notre  Penelope  n'est  qu'  une  Sallope,'  but  I  think  I  have 
trespassed  too  much  on  your  Patience. 

"  I  beg  you  to  be  persuaded  of  the  sincere  veneration 
and  esteem  with  which  I  have  the  Honour  to  be.  Sir, 
your  most  obliged  and  most  humble  servant, 

"  George  Frideric  Handel  " 

All  through  the  winter  Handel  continued  to  give 
concerts  at  regular  intervals,  the  original  six  subscription 
concerts  being  followed  by  six  others.  His  repertory, 
besides  L Allegro,  included  Alexanders  Feast,  the  St. 
Cecilia  Ode,  Esther,  and  Hymen,  the  latter  a  revised 
version  of  the  opera  Imeneo,  described  as  a  "  new  serenata." 
The  Lord  Lieutenant  left  for  London  on  the  i6th  of 
February,  but  Handel  was  now  firmly  established  in  the 
good  graces  of  Dublin  society,  and  needed  no  court 
patronage  to  ensure  the  acceptance  of  his  works. 

On  the  27th  of  March  1742  the  following  notice 
appeared  in  Faulkner's  Journal:  "  For  Relief  of  the 
Prisoners  in  the  several  Gaols,  and  for  the  Support  of 
Mercer's  Hospital  in  Stephen's  Street,  and  of  the 
Charitable  Infirmary  on  the  Inn's  Quay,  on  Monday  the 
1 2th  of  April  will  be  performed  at  the  Musick   Hall  in 

^  Akssandro  in  Persia,  a  pasticcio,  produced  October  31.  The  opera 
season  at  the  King's  Theatre  was  now  managed  by  the  Earl  of  Middlesex 
with  Galuppi  as  musical  director. 

^  By  Galuppi. 

1 66  HANDEL 

Fishamble  Street,  Mr.  Handel's  new  Grand  Oratorio, 
called  The  Messiah,  in  which  the  Gentlemen  of  the  Choirs 
of  both  Cathedrals  will  assist,  with  some  Concertos  on  the 
Organ,  by  Mr.  Handell.  Tickets  to  be  had  at  the  Musick 
Hall,  and  at  Mr.  Neal's  in  Christ  Church-yard  at  half  a 
Guinea  each.  N.B. — No  person  will  be  admitted  to  the 
Rehearsal  without  a  Rehearsal  ticket,  which  will  be  given 
gratis  with  the  Ticket  for  the  Performance  when  payed  for." 

The  rehearsal  duly  took  place  on  the  8th,  and  was 
thus  recorded  by  Faulkner s  Journal: — 

"  Yesterday  Mr.  Handel's  new  Grand  Sacred  Oratorio, 
called  The  Messiah,  was  rehearsed  at  the  Musick  Hall  in 
Fishamble  Street  to  a  most  Grand,  Polite,  and  Crowded 
Audience ;  and  was  performed  so  well,  that  it  gave 
universal  Satisfaction  to  all  present ;  and  was  allowed  by 
the  greatest  Judges  to  be  the  finest  Composition  of 
Musick  that  ever  was  heard,  and  the  sacred  Words  as 
properly  adapted  for  the  occasion. 

"  N.B. — At  the  desire  of  several  persons  of  Distinction, 
the  above  Performance  is  put  off  to  Tuesday  next.  The 
doors  will  be  opened  at  Eleven,  and  the  Performance 
begin  at  Twelve.  Many  Ladies  and  Gentlemen  who  are 
well-wishers  to  this  Noble  and  Grand  Charity,  for  which 
this  Oratorio  was  composed,  request  it  as  a  favour,  that  the 
Ladies  who  honour  this  performance  with  their  Presence, 
would  be  pleased  to  come  without  Hoops,  as  it  will  greatly 
encrease  the  Charity,  by  making  Room  for  more  company." 

A  further  advertisement  published  on  the  morning  of 
the  performance  entreated  gentlemen  to  come  without 
their  swords  for  the  same  reason. 

On  Tuesday,  the  13th  of  April  1742,  the  first  perform- 
ance of  The  Messiah  took  place.  On  the  ensuing  Saturday 
the  following  report  appeared  in  Faulkner  s  J ourfial: — 


"  On  Tuesday  last  Mr.  Handel's  Sacred  Grand  Oratorio' 
The  Messiah,  was  performed  in  the  New  Musick  Hall  in 
Fishamble  Street  ;  the  best  Judges  allowed  it  to  be  the 
most  finished  piece  of  Musick.  Words  are  wanting  to 
express  the  exquisite  Delight  it  afforded  to  the  admiring 
crowded  Audience,  The  Sublime,  the  Grand,  and  the 
Tender,  adapted  to  the  most  elevated,  majestick  and  mov- 
ing Words,  conspired  to  transport  and  charm  the  ravished 
Heart  and  Ear,  It  is  but  Justice  to  Mr,  Handel  that  the 
World  should  know  he  generously  gave  the  Money  arising 
from  this  Grand  Performance,  to  be  equally  shared  by  the 
Society  for  relieving  Prisoners,  the  Charitable  Infirmary, 
and  Mercer's  Hospital,  for  which  they  will  ever  gratefully 
remember  his  Name  ;  and  that  the  Gentlemen  of  the  two 
Choirs,  Mr,  Dubourg,  Mrs.  Avolio  and  Mrs.  Cibber,  who 
all  performed  their  Parts  to  Admiration,  acted  also  on  the 
same  disinterested  Principle,  satisfied  with  the  deserved 
Applause  of  the  Publick,  and  the  conscious  Pleasure  of 
promoting  such  useful  and  extensive  Charity,  There 
were  above  700  People  in  the  Room,  and  the  Sum  collected 
for  that  Noble  and  Pious  Charity  amounted  to  about 
^400,  out  of  which  £12^  goes  to  each  of  the  three  great 
and  pious  Charities." 

The  only  other  contemporary  account  of  the  first 
performance  of  TJie  Messiah  with  which  I  am  acquainted 
was  furnished  to  Burney  by  an  Irish  doctor  named  Ouin, 
who  was  living  in  Dublin  during  Handel's  visit.  Of 
Handel  he  wrote : — 

"  He  was  received  in  that  kingdom  by  people  of  the 
first  distinction  with  all  possible  marks  of  esteem  as  a 
man,  and  admiration  as  a  performer  and  composer  of  the 
highest  order.  TJie  Messiah,  I  am  thoroughly  convinced, 
was  performed  in  Dublin  for  the  first  time,  and  with  the 

1 68  HANDEL 

greatest  applause.^  Mrs.  Gibber  and  Signora  AvoHo  were 
the  principal  performers.  These,  with  the  assistance  of 
the  choristers  of  St.  Patrick's  Cathedral  and  Christ  Church, 
formed  the  vocal  band  ;  and  Dubourg,  with  several  good 
instrumental  performers,  composed  a  very  respectable 
orchestra.  There  were  many  noble  families  here,  with 
whom  Mr.  Handel  lived  in  the  utmost  degree  of  friendship 
and  familiarity.  Mrs.  Vernon,  a  German  lady  who  came 
over  with  King  George  I,  was  particularly  intimate  with 
him,  and  at  her  house  I  had  the  pleasure  of  seeing  and 
conversing  with  Mr.  Handel,  who,  with  his  other  ex- 
cellences, was  possessed  of  a  great  stock  of  humour ;  no 
man  ever  told  a  story  with  more.  But  it  was  requisite 
for  the  hearer  to  have  a  competent  knowledge  of  at  least 
four  languages,  English,  French,  Italian  and  German,  for 
in  his  narratives  he  made  use  of  them  all." 

In  spite  of  these  records  some  uncertainty  still  exists 
as  to  the  singers  who  took  part  in  the  first  performance 
of  The  Messiah,  and  the  mystery  has  by  no  means  been 
dispelled  by  the  discovery  in  1891  of  the  only  known 
copy  of  the  original  word-book  of  the  oratorio,  with  the 
names  of  the  singers  written  in  pencil  by  the  side  of 
the  songs  that  they  sang.  One  interesting  point,  at 
any  rate,  is  made  clear  by  this  document — the  identity 
of  the  male  soloists,  whom  Dr.  Quin  declares  to  have 
been  taken  from  the  choirs  of  the  two  cathedrals. 
They  were  James  Baily  (tenor),  William  Lambe  and 
Joseph  Ward  (altos),  John  Hill  and  John  Mason  (basses). 
The  first  four  belonged  to  the  choirs  of  both  cathedrals, 
but  Mason  was  a  Vicar  Choral  of  Christ  Church  alone. 

^  In  Burney's  time  there  was  some  uncertainty,  now  completely  dispelled, 
as  to  whether  The  Messiah  had  not  been  performed  in  London  during  the 
previous  year. 


With  regard  to  the  female  soloists,  the  word-book  raises 
difficulties  rather  than  settles  them.  Dr.  Quin  and 
Faulkner  s  Journal  agree  in  saying  that  Signora  Avolio 
and  Mrs.  Gibber  took  part  in  the  performance,  but  in  the 
word-book  not  only  is  there  no  mention  of  Signora  Avolio, 
but  against  several  of  the  soprano  numbers  the  name 
"  McLean  "  is  pencilled,  referring  presumably  to  the  wife 
of  Maclaine  the  organist,  who  is  known  to  have  accom- 
panied her  husband  to  Ireland.  It  is  true  that  "  McLean  " 
does  not  seem  to  have  sung  all  the  soprano  solos.  Her 
name  is  only  written  against  the  recitatives  "  There  were 
shepherds,"  "Thy  rebuke  hath  broken  His  heart,"  and 
the  air,  "  I  know  that  my  Redeemer  liveth,"  so  that  it  is 
possible  that  Signora  Avolio  may  have  sung  "  Rejoice 
greatly,"  "Come  unto  Him,"^  and  "How  beautiful  are 
the  feet,"  against  which  no  name  is  pencilled  in  the  word- 

It  is  possible,  of  course,  that  the  notes  in  this  word- 
book may  refer  to  the  second  performance  of  TJie  Messiah 
on  the  3rd  of  June,  not  to  the  first  at  all,  and  this  theory  is 
supported  by  the  fact  that  the  printer  seems  accidentally 
to  have  omitted  the  recitative,  "Unto  which  of  the 
angels,"  and  a  slip  of  paper  containing  the  words  of  the 
omitted  number  and  of  the  following  chorus  has  been 
pasted  into  its  right  place.     No  record  of  this  performance 

^  We  already  knew  from  the  Dublin  MS.  that  at  the  first  performance  of  The 
Messiah  the  air  "  He  shall  feed  his  flock  "  was,  as  is  now  customary,  divided 
between  the  contralto  and  the  soprano,  not,  as  in  the  autograph,  given  to  the 
soprano  alone.  This  is  confirmed  by  the  word-book,  in  which  Mrs.  Gibber's 
name  is  written  against  the  opening  words  of  the  song.  Mrs.  Gibber  also 
sang  "  If  God  be  for  us,"  presumably  in  a  transposed  edition,  and  "  He  was 
despised."  With  reference  to  her  singing  of  the  latter  air  there  is  a  tradition 
that  Dr.  Delany,  who  was  present  at  the  first  performance,  was  so  much 
affected  that  he  cried  aloud  :  "  Woman,  for  this  thy  sins  be  forgiven  thee." 

170  HANDEL 

has  survived,  and  it  is  legitimate  therefore  to  suppose  that 
at  the  first  performance  Signora  Avolio  found  her  part 
too  heavy,  and  at  the  second  arranged  to  share  the  soprano 
solos  with  Mrs.  Maclaine.  But  the  evidence  of  the  word- 
book must  not  be  taken  too  seriously.  The  pencil  notes 
were  doubtless  hastily  jotted  down,  and  may  very  likely 
be  inaccurate  ;  indeed  the  attribution  of  the  tenor  air, "  Thou 
shalt  break  them,"  to  the  alto  Lambe  seems  almost  im- 

The  incidents  of  Handel's  stay  in  Dublin  after  the 
production  of  TJie  Messiah  may  be  briefly  summed  up. 
Saul  was  performed  on  the  25th  of  May,  and  The  Messiah 
repeated  on  the  3rd  of  June.  This  was  the  last  of  Handel's 
own  performances,  though  he  probably  took  part  in 
Signora  A volio's  benefit  concert  on  the  1 6th  of  July,  and 
in  Mrs.  Arne's  concert  on  the  21st  of  July,  at  which  a 
great  deal  of  his  music  was  performed. 

It  was  doubtless  at  one  or  other  of  these  entertain- 
ments that  the  incident  occurred  which  was  mentioned 
by  Burney  as  an  instance  of  Handel's  quickness  of  wit. 
"  One  night,"  he  writes,  "  when  Handel  was  in  Dublin, 
Dubourg  (a  well-known  violin  player  of  that  time)  having 
a  solo  part  in  a  song  and  a  close  ^  to  make  ad  libitum,  he 
wandered  about  in  different  keys  a  good  while,  and  seemed 
indeed  a  little  bewildered  and  uncertain  of  his  original 
key ;  but  at  length  coming  to  the  shake  which  was  to 
terminate  this  long  close,  Handel  to  the  great  delight  of 
the  audience  cried  out  loud  enough  to  be  heard  in  the 
most  remote  parts  of  the  theatre,  "  You  are  welcome 
home,  Mr.  Dubourg."^ 

Handel  left  Dublin  on  the  13th  of  August  and  returned 

^  We  should  now  call  it  a  cadenza. 
^  Burney,  Cotnmetnoration. 


to  London,  whence  on  the  9th  of  September  he  addressed 
the  following  letter  to  his  friend  Jennens : — 

"  Dear  S""' — It  was  indeed  your  humble  Servant 
which  intended  you  a  Visit  on  my  way  from  Ireland  to 
London,  for  I  certainly  would  have  given  you  a  better 
account  by  word  of  Mouth,  as  by  writing,  how  well  your 
Messiah  was  received  in  that  country,  yet  as  a  Noble 
Lord  and  not  less  than  the  Bishop  of  Elphin  ^  (a  Noble- 
man very  learned  in  Musick)  has  given  his  Observations 
in  writing  on  this  Oratorio,  I  send  you  here  annexed  the 
contents  of  it  in  his  own  words.  I  shall  send  the  printed 
Book  of  TJie  Messiah  to  Mr.  J.  Steel  for  you. 

"  As  for  my  success  in  general  in  that  generous  and 
polite  Nation,  I  reserve  the  account  of  it  till  I  have  the 
honour  to  see  you  in  London.  The  report  that  the 
Direction  of  the  Opera  next  winter  is  committed  to  my 
care,  is  groundless.  The  gentlemen  who  have  undertaken 
to  meddle  with  Harmony  cannot  agree,  and  are  quite  in  a 
confusion.  Whether  I  shall  do  something  in  the  Oratorio 
way  (as  several  of  my  friends  desire)  I  cannot  determine 
as  yet.  Certain  it  is,  that  this  time  12-month  I  shall 
continue  my  Oratorios  in  Ireland,  where  they  are  going  to 
make  a  large  subscription  already  for  that  purpose. 

"  If  I  had  known  that  my  Lord  Guernsey  ^  was  so  near 
when  I  passed  Coventry,  you  may  easily  imagine.  Sir, 
that  I  should  not  have  neglected  of  paying  my  Respects 
to  him,  since  you  know  the  particular  Esteem  I  have  for 

^  Edward  Synge,  a  prelate  who  enjoyed  the  probably  unique  advantage  of 
being  the  son  of  an  archbishop,  and  the  grandson,  great-nephew,  and  brother 
of  bishops. 

-  Afterwards  the  Earl  of  Aylesford,  a  relative  of  Jennens,  to  whom  he 
bequeathed  his  books  and  pictures. 

172  HANDEL 

his  Lordship.  I  think  it  a  very  long  time  to  the  month 
of  November  next,  when  I  can  have  some  hopes  of  seeing 
you  here  in  Town.  Pray  let  me  hear  meanwhile  of  your 
Health  and  Welfare,  of  which  I  take  a  real  share,  being 
with  an  uncommon  Sincerity  and  Respect,  S""",  your  most 
obliged  humble  servant, 

"  George  Frideric  Handel  " 

In  spite  of  his  promise,  Handel  never  revisited  Ireland. 
How  it  happened  that  what  seems  to  have  been  a  settled 
arrangement  was  thrown  over  is  not  known.  Possibly  the 
subscription  was  not  after  all  taken  up  with  the  enthusiasm 
that  was  expected,  or  he  may  have  thought  that  the 
future  looked  more  promising  in  London.  At  any  rate 
his  Irish  visit  remains  a  unique  episode  in  his  career,  a 
moment  of  brilliant  sunshine  in  the  midst  of  gathering 
clouds  and  threatening  storms,  on  which  he  must  have 
often  looked  back  with  vain  regret  in  the  troublous  times 
that  were  soon  to  come. 


WHEN  Handel  returned  to  London  he  found  his 
position  materially  improved.  His  triumphs 
abroad  had  won  him  consideration  at  home.  His  flight 
to  Ireland  had  been  sung  by  no  less  celebrated  a  bard 
than  Pope.  Pope  knew  little  and  cared  less  about  music, 
but  he  was  under  no  illusions  as  to  his  ignorance,  and 
was  content  to  accept  the  opinion  of  an  expert.  He  asked 
his  friend  Arbuthnot  what  was  Handel's  real  value  as  a 
musician.  "  Conceive  the  highest  that  you  can  of  his 
ability,"  replied  the  doctor,  "  and  they  are  much  beyond 
anything  that  you  can  conceive."  Pope  laid  the  words  to 
heart,  and  a  scathing  passage  in  the  Dunciad  pilloried 
Handel's  enemies  for  all  time.  The  genius  of  Italian 
opera,  "  by  singing  Peers  upheld  on  either  hand,"  is 
pleading  her  cause  before  the  throne  of  Dulness : — 

"  "'But  soon,  ah  soon,  Rebellion  will  commence 
If  Music  meanly  borrows  aid  from  sense. 
Strong  in  new  arms,  lo  !  Giant  Handel  stands 
Like  bold  Briareus  with  a  hundred  hands ;  ^ 
To  stir,  to  rouse,  to  shake  the  soul  he  comes, 
And  Jove's  own  Thunders  follow  Mars's  Drums, 

Arrest  him,   Empress,  or  you  sleep  no  more ' 

She  heard,  and  drove  him  to  the  Hibernian  shore." 

^  A  note  of  Pope's  own   explains   the   pun   in   this  passage,  which  has 
sometimes  been  misinterpreted.     "Mr.   Handel,"  he  says,  "  had  introduced 

1 74  HANDEL 

Handel  came  back  with  a  new  oratorio,  Samson,  in 
his  pocket,  which  he  had  written,  all  save  the  concluding 
air  and  chorus,  immediately  after  The  Messiah  in 
September  and  October  1741.  In  October  1742  he  put 
the  finishing  touch  to  it,  but  it  was  not  produced  until  the 
17th  of  February  1743.  The  libretto  was  by  Newburgh 
Hamilton,  who,  in  his  dedication  to  the  Prince  of  Wales, 
makes  an  interesting  reference  to  the  odious  persecution 
which  Handel  still  had  to  endure  from  a  certain  set 
among  the  aristocracy :  "As  we  have  so  great  a  genius 
amongst  us,  it  is  a  pity  that  so  many  mean  artifices  have 
been  lately  used  to  blast  all  his  endeavours,  and  in  him 
ruin  the  art  itself;  but  he  has  the  satisfaction  of  being 
encouraged  by  all  true  lovers  and  real  judges  of  musick ; 
in  a  more  especial  manner  by  that  illustrious  person, 
whose  high  rank  only  serves  to  make  his  knowledge  in 
all  arts  and  sciences  as  conspicuous  as  his  power  and 
inclination  to  patronize  them." 

Samson  was  from  the  first  one  of  the  most  popular  of 
Handel's  oratorios.  Even  Horace  Walpole,  who  made 
fun  of  everything  and  everybody,  had  to  own  that  it  was 
a  success. 

A  few  days  after  the  first  performance  he  wrote  :— 

"  Handel  has  set  up  an  Oratorio  against  the  Opera,  and 
succeeds.  He  has  hired  all  the  goddesses  from  the 
farces,  and  the  singers  of  '  Roast  Beef  from  between  the 
acts  at  both  theatres,  with  a  man  with  one  note  in  his 
voice,  and  a  girl  without  ever  an  one,  and  so  they  sing 
and    make   brave   hallelujahs,    and    the    good    company 

a  great  number  of  hands  and  more  variety  of  instruments  into  the  orchestra, 
and  employed  even  drums  and  cannons  to  make  a  fuller  chorus ;  which 
proved  so  much  too  manly  for  the  fine  gentlemen  of  his  age  that  he  was 
obliged  to  remove  his  music  into  Ireland." 


encore  the  recitative,  if  it   happens  to  have  any  cadence 
like  what  they  call  a  tune." 

Walpole's  criticisms  on  Handel's  singers  were  to  a 
certain  extent  justified.  The  girl  without  a  note  was 
evidently  Mrs.  Gibber,  whose  voice  Burney,  one  of  her 
great  admirers,  had  to  admit  was  "  a  mere  thread,"  while 
even  so  enthusiastic  a  Handelian  as  Mrs.  Delany 
confessed  that  Beard  (the  man  with  one  note)  had  "  no 
voice  at  all."  ^  Beard,  however,  was  not  only  a  first-rate 
artist,  but  a  man  of  real  culture  and  refinement,  besides 
being  totally  without  the  vanity  to  which  tenors  are 
usually  supposed  to  have  a  prescriptive  right.  Miss 
Hawkins  says  of  him :  "  His  lowly  appreciation  of 
himself — only  one  of  his  many  virtues  ! — was  shown  when 
in  hearing  Harrison,  at  one  of  the  grand  commemorations 
of  Handel,  then  in  fine  voice  sing  '  Oft  on  a  plat,'  he  said 
to  my  father,  who  happened  to  sit  next  to  him,  '  I  never 
sang  it  half  so  well.'"^  His  marriage  to  Lady  Henrietta 
Herbert  a  few  years  before  had  been  a  nine  days'  wonder 
in  the  fashionable  world.  Lady  Mary  Wortley  Montagu 
wrote  wickedly  about  it  to  a  friend :  "  Lady  Harriet 
Herbert  furnished  the  tea-tables  here  with  fresh  tattle  for 
the  last  fortnight.  I  was  one  of  the  first  who  was  in- 
formed of  her  adventure  by  Lady  Gage,  who  was  told  that 
morning  by  a  priest,  that  she  had  desired  him  to  marry 
her  the  next  day  to  Beard,  who  sings  in  the  farces  at 
Drury  Lane.  He  refused  her  that  good  office,  and 
immediately  told  Lady  Gage,  who  (having  been  un- 
fortunate in  her  friends)  was  frightened  at  this  affair,  and 
asked  my  advice.  I  told  her  honestly,  that  since  the 
lady  was  capable  of  such  amours,  I  did  not  doubt  if  this 
was  broke  off  she  would  bestow  her  person  and  fortune 
^  Correspondence,  ii.  271.  ^  Anecdotes^  1822. 

176  HANDEL 

on  some  hackney-coachman  or  chairman ;  and  that  I 
really  saw  no  method  of  saving  her  from  ruin,  and  her 
family  from  dishonour  but  by  poisoning  her ;  and  offered 
to  be  at  the  expense  of  the  arsenic,  and  even  to  administer 
it  with  my  own  hands,  if  she  would  invite  her  to  drink 
tea  with  her  that  evening.  But  on  her  not  approving 
that  method,  she  sent  to  Lady.  Montacute,  Mrs.  Durich, 
and  all  the  relations  within  reach  of  messengers.  They 
carried  Lady  Harriet  to  Twickenham,  though  I  told  them 
it  was  a  bad  air  for  girls.^  She  is  since  returned  to 
London,  and  some  people  believe  her  married ;  others, 
that  she  is  too  much  intimidated  by  Mr.  Waldegrave's 
threat  to  dare  to  go  through  this  ceremony;  but  the 
secret  is  now  public,  and  in  what  manner  it  will  conclude 
I  know  not.  Her  relations  have  certainly  no  reason  to 
be  amazed  at  her  constitution,  but  are  violently  surprised 
at  the  mixture  of  devotion  that  forces  her  to  have  recourse 
to  the  church  in  her  necessities,  which  had  not  been  the 
road  taken  by  the  matrons  of  her  family."  Lady 
Henrietta,  in  spite  of  the  objurgations  of  her  family, 
lived  happily  with  Beard  until  1753.  After  her  death  he 
married  a  daughter  of  Rich,  the  famous  Harlequin  and 
theatrical  manager. 

Meanwhile,  Samson  pursued  its  successful  career. 
"  The  Oratorios  thrive  abundantly,"  wrote  Horace 
Walpole ;  "  for  my  part  they  give  me  an  idea  of  Heaven, 
where  everybody  is  to  sing,  whether  they  have  voices  or 
not."  Miss  Catherine  Talbot,  the  adopted  daughter  of 
Dr.  Seeker,  Archbishop  of  Canterbury,  and  one  of  the 
famous  "Blue  Stocking"  gang,  took  it  much  more 
seriously.  "  I  heard  Samson  in  one  of  the  College  Halls," 
she  wrote  from  Oxford    to   her   friend  Elizabeth  Carter, 

^  Because  Pope,  her  quondam  admirer  and  inveterate  enemy,  lived  there. 


"  and  I  believe  to  the  full  as  finely  as  it  ever  was  in  town. 
I  really  cannot  help  thinking  this  kind  of  entertainment 
must  necessarily  have  some  effect  in  correcting  the  levity 
of  the  age ;  and  let  an  audience  be  ever  so  thoughtless, 
they  can  scarcely  come  away,  I  should  think,  without 
being  the  better  for  an  evening  so  spent."  ^ 

Samson  was  followed  in  due  course  by  The  Messiah^ 
the  first  London  performance  of  which  took  place  on  the 
23rd  of  March  1743.  It  was  then  and  for  some  years 
afterwards  described  merely  as  "  a  sacred  oratorio," 
doubtless  because  Handel's  enemies,  who  lost  no  chance 
of  doing  him  a  bad  turn,  would  have  raised  hypocritical 
protests  against  the  blasphemy  of  allowing  the  name 
of  Messiah  to  appear  on  a  playbill.  No  notice  of  The 
Messiah  appeared  in  any  London  paper,  but  an  anecdote 
relating  to  the  first  performance  has  survived  in  the 
correspondence  of  Dr.  Beattie.  "  When  Handel's  Messiah 
was  first  performed,"  he  says,  "the  audience  was  ex- 
ceedingly struck  and  affected  by  the  music  in  general, 
but  when  the  chorus  struck  up  '  For  the  Lord  God 
Omnipotent '  in  the  Alleluia,  they  were  so  transported 
that  they  all  together,  with  the  King  (who  happened  to  be 
present),  started  up  and  remained  standing  till  the 
chorus  ended.  This  anecdote  I  had  from  Lord  Kinnoull." 
The  Messiah  does  not  at  first  seem  to  have  pleased  the 
taste  of  London  musicians.  "  Partly,"  according  to  Lord 
Shaftesbury,  "from  the  scruples  some  persons^  had 
entertained  against  carrying  on  such  a  performance  in  a 
Play-House,  and  partly  for  not  entering  into  the  genius 

^  Carter  Correspondence,  1 808,  vol.  i.  p.  29. 

'^  Miss  Catherine  Talbot  was  one  of  these.     Writing  to  her  friend  Mrs. 
Carter  of  a  performance  of  The  Messiah,  she  said :  "To  be  sure  the  play- 
house is  an  unfit  place  for  such  a  solemn  performance." 

178  HANDEL 

of  the  composition,  this  capital  composition  was  but 
indifferently  relished,"  It  was  given  only  thrice  during 
the  season  of  1743,  while  Samson  was  given  eight  times. 
Even  Jennens,  who  ought  to  have  known  better,  chose 
to  find  fault  with  it.  "  I  shall  shew  you,"  he  wrote  to  a 
friend,  "  a  collection  I  gave  Handel,  call'd  Messiah,  which 
I  value  highly.  He  has  made  a  fine  entertainment  of  it, 
though  not  near  so  good  as  he  might  and  ought  to  have 
done.  I  have  with  great  difficulty  made  him  correct 
some  of  the  grossest  faults  in  the  composition,  but  he 
retained  his  overture  obstinately,  in  which  there  are  some 
passages  far  unworthy  of  Handel,  but  much  more  un- 
worthy of  The  Messiah"  Whatever  the  cause  may  have 
been,  The  Messiah  was  certainly  slow  in  finding  its  way  to 
popularity.  During  its  first  London  season  it  was  only 
given  three  times,  as  we  have  seen.  In  1744  it  was  not 
performed  at  all,  and  only  twice  in  1745.  After  that  it 
seems  to  have  lain  upon  the  shelf  until  1749. 

But  England  summoned  Handel  once  more  from  his 
oratorios  to  celebrate  her  triumphs  in  the  field.  The  war 
of"  Jenkins's  ear  "  had  dragged  on  for  some  years  without 
producing  any  incident  that  touched  popular  imagination. 
Englishmen  hardly  troubled  to  follow  the  devious  mazes 
of  foreign  politics,  and  many  honest  citizens  would  have 
found  it  difficult  to  explain  how  it  came  about  that  after 
going  to  war  with  Spain  to  avenge  Jenkins  we  found 
ourselves  protecting  Maria  Theresa  against  the  united 
forces  of  France  and  Prussia.  But  the  victory  of 
Dettingen  in  June  1743  gave  the  country  something 
tangible  to  boast  about.  The  idea  of  an  English  king 
leading  his  forces  in  person  against  our  traditional 
enemies,  and  inflicting  a  sound  beating  upon  them,  was 
one  that  nobody  could  resist.     George  ll's  unpopularity 


was  forgotten,  and  he  became  for  the  moment  the  national 
hero.  With  all  his  faults,  he  undoubtedly  had  personal 
courage,  and  the  picture  of  him  alighting  from  his  unruly 
horse,  and  trusting  to  his  own  stout  little  legs,  "which," 
as  he  said,  "he  knew  would  not  run  away  with  him," 
appealed  irresistibly  to  English  sentiment.  So  a  national 
thanksgiving  for  the  victory  of  Dettingen  was  decreed, 
and  Handel,  in  his  capacity  of  "  Composer  of  Music  to 
the  Chapel  Royal,"  wrote  a  Te  Deum  and  an  Anthem  for 
it,  which  were  duly  performed  at  the  Chapel  Royal  on 
the  27th  of  November.  Both  works  met  with  general 
approbation.  A  newspaper  of  the  period  spoke  of  them 
as  "  so  truly  masterly  and  sublime,  as  well  as  new  in  their 
kind,  that  they  prove  this  great  genius  not  only  inex- 
haustible, but  likewise  still  rising  to  a  higher  degree  of 
perfection."  ^ 

Mrs.  Delany,  after  attending  a  rehearsal  of  the  Te 
Deuni,  wrote  enthusiastically  to  her  brother :  "  It  is 
excessively  fine  ;  I  was  all  raptures  and  so  was  your  friend 
D[octor]  D[elany],  as  you  may  imagine.  Everybody  says 
it  is  the  finest  of  Handel's  compositions.  I  am  not  well 
enough  acquainted  with  it  to  pronounce  that  of  it,  but  it 
is  heavenly." 

For  the  Lenten  season  of  1744  Handel  had  a  pleasant 
surprise  for  his  subscribers  in  the  shape  of  a  secular 
oratorio,  Semele,  a  return  to  the  manner  of  his  early 
triumph,  Acis  and  Galatea.  Handel  certainly  did  all  that 
he  could  to  conciliate  lovers  of  every  sort  of  music,  but 
the  opposition  against  him  and  his  music  was  still 
stubborn  and  powerful.  Mrs.  Delany,^  writing  after  the 
first  performance  of  Seinele^  observes  significantly :   "  There 

1  Quoted  by  Faulkner's  Journal,  26th  November  1743. 
^  Delany,  Correspondence,  vol.  ii. 

i8o  HANDEL 

was  no  disturbance  at  the  play-house,"  as  though  a  chorus 
of  cat-calls  might  reasonably  be  expected  at  the  pro- 
duction of  a  new  oratorio. 

She  goes  on :  "  The  Goths  were  not  so  very  absurd 
as  to  declare  in  a  public  manner  their  disapprobation  of 
such  a  composer."  But  "the  Goths,"  though  they  had 
the  grace  to  refrain  from  open  manifestations  of  hostility, 
were  none  the  less  determined  to  ruin  Handel,  whose 
concerts  they  looked  upon  as  threatening  danger  to  their 
favourite  amusement  of  Italian  opera.  Ten  days  later 
Mrs.  Delany  returns  to  the  subject: — 

"  Semele  has  a  strong  party  against  it,  viz.,  the  fine 
ladies,  the  pet  its  maitres  and  ignoramus's.  All  the  opera 
people  are  enraged  at  Handel,  but  Lady  Cobham,  Lady 
Westmorland,  and  Lady  Chesterfield  never  fail  it." 
Another  who  never  failed  to  put  in  an  appearance  at 
Handel's  concerts  was  King  George  II,  who  remained 
faithful  to  his  favourite  composer  when  his  oratorios  were 
deserted  by  court  and  society. 

A  famous  mot  of  Lord  Chesterfield's  relates  to  this 
period  of  Handel's  career.  "  What,  my  Lord,"  said  some 
one  to  him,  as  he  was  coming  out  of  Covent  Garden  one 
evening  in  the  middle  of  the  performance ;  "  are  you  dis- 
missed ?  Is  there  not  an  oratorio?"  "  Yes,"  replied  he, 
"  they  are  now  performing,  but  I  thought  it  best  to  retire, 
lest  I  should  disturb  the  King  in  his  privacies."  The 
Prince  of  Wales  was  also  a  good  friend  to  Handel  at  this 
time.  He  had,  as  we  have  seen,  accepted  the  dedication 
of  Samson,  and  he  had  long  since  forgotten  the  old 
squabbles  about  Bononcini  and  Senesino.  It  is  true  that 
Mrs.  Delany  refers  to  a  quarrel  between  Handel  and  the 
Prince  early  in  1744,  but  from  what  she  says  Handel 
appears  to  have  treated  the  affair  as  a  joke.     Handel  used 


to  hold  many  of  the  rehearsals  for  his  oratorios  at  Carlton 
House,  where  the  Prince  had  been  established  since  1732, 
and  inside  the  walls  of  the  music-room  he  behaved  like  a 
veritable  dictator.  Burney,  who  knew  Handel  well  in  his 
later  years,  says  that  if  the  Prince  and  Princess  were  not 
up  to  time  in  coming  to  a  rehearsal,  Handel  was  apt  to 
become  violent,  whereupon  the  Prince,  who  must  have 
been  good-nature  itself,  used  to  confess  himself  in  the 
wrong,  and  add  that  it  was  a  shame  to  have  kept  these 
good  people,  meaning  the  performers,  so  long  from  their 
pupils  and  other  concerns.  Handel  at  rehearsal  must 
have  been  a  decidedly  awe-inspiring  person.  If  a 
maid  of  honour  or  any  other  female  attendant  talked 
while  the  music  was  going  on,  she  rendered  herself  liable 
to  a  dose  of  Handel's  most  vigorous  vernacular.  Then 
the  Princess  of  Wales,  with  her  accustomed  mildness  and 
benignity,  would  smooth  things  over  by  saying :  "  Hush, 
hush !  Handel  is  in  a  passion."  At  the  performances  in 
the  theatre  he  was  more  terrific  still.  He  had  a  way  of 
shouting  "  Chorus  !  "  at  the  close  of  an  air,  which  Burney 
describes  as  extremely  formidable.  He  used  to  wear  an 
enormous  white  wig — the  sort  of  wig  that  Edward  Fitz- 
Gerald  described  as  "a  fugue  in  itself" — which  his  friends 
regarded  as  a  kind  of  weather-glass  indicative  of  the  rise 
and  fall  of  his  stormy  temperament.  When  things  went 
well  it  had  a  certain  nod  or  vibration  which  manifested 
his  satisfaction,  but  without  this  outward  and  visible  sign 
the  initiated  gathered  that  the  composer  was  ill  pleased 
with  the  performance,  and  looked  out  for  squalls  ac- 

Semele  was  followed  on  the  2nd  of  March  1744  by 
Joseph  and  his  Brethren,  a  work  now  entirely  neglected, 
the  libretto  of  which  was  written  by  the  Reverend  James 

1 82  HANDEL 

Miller,  who  dedicated  it  to  the  Duke  of  Montagu,  a  proof, 
let  us  hope,  that  that  effervescent  nobleman  had  given  up 
his  taste  for  practical  joking  as  middle  age  approached, 
and  had  begun  to  take  life  more  seriously. 

Joseph  seems  to  have  been  born  under  an  unlucky  star. 
At  the  final  rehearsals,  according  to  Mrs.  Delany, "  Handel 
was  mightily  out  of  humour  about  it,  for  Sullivan,  who  is 
to  sing  Joseph,  is  a  block  with  a  very  fine  voice,  and  Beard 
has  710  voice  at  all.  The  part  which  Francesina  is  to  have 
(Joseph's  wife)  will  not  admit  of  much  variety,  but  I  hope 
it  will  be  well  received."  Joseph  did  not,  unfortunately, 
fulfil  expectations,  and  the  season  closed  in  disappoint- 
ment. Handel  devoted  the  following  summer  to  the 
composition  of  Belshazzar,  the  libretto  of  which  was 
furnished  to  him  by  his  friend  Jennens.  Jennen's  muse 
was  a  lady  of  invincible  prolixity,  and  Handel's  utmost 
efforts  could  do  little  to  stem  the  torrent  of  her  eloquence. 
Several  of  Handel's  letters  to  Jennens  of  this  period  are 
extant,  dealing  principally  with  the  new  oratorio.  "  Your 
most  excellent  oratorio  has  given  me  great  delight  in 
setting  it  to  musick,"  he  writes  at  one  time,  "and  still 
engages  me  warmly.  It  is  indeed  a  noble  piece,  very 
grand  and  uncommon.  It  has  furnished  me  with  expres- 
sions, and  has  given  me  opportunity  to  some  very  par- 
ticular ideas,  besides  so  many  great  choruses." 

A  little  later  the  burden  of  Jennens's  verbosity  weighs 
upon  him  more  heavily :  "  I  think  it  a  very  fine  and 
sublime  oratorio,  only  it  is  really  too  long;  if  I  should 
extend  the  music,  it  would  last  four  hours  and  more.  I 
retrenched  already  a  great  deal  of  musick,  that  I  might 
preserve  the  poetry  as  much  as  I  could,  yet  still  it  may  be 
shortened."  Jennens  was  obstinate  as  well  as  wordy, 
and,  like  Mr    Puff  in  The  Critic,  he  determined  to  print 


every  word  of  it.  When,  therefore,  the  word-book  of  the 
oratorio  was  published,  Jennens's  rich  fancies  appeared  in 
all  their  pristine  and  unshorn  luxuriance,  but  a  sinister 
black  line  in  the  margin  indicated  the  passages,  amount- 
ing in  all  to  some  two  hundred  lines,  which  the  composer 
had  not  found  it  convenient  to  use.  No  wonder  that 
Jennens  was  Handel's  severest  critic,  and  bewailed  the 
base  uses  to  which  his  "fine  entertainment"  had  been 

The  collapse  of  the  opera,  which  since  Handel  had 
retired  from  management  in  1741  had  been  carried  on  by 
Lord  Middlesex,  seemed  to  leave  the  field  open,  and 
Handel  now  gave  up  Covent  Garden  and  returned  to  his 
old  quarters  in  the  Haymarket,  where  he  started  a  new 
series  of  subscription  concerts  in  November  1744,  on  a 
more  ambitious  scale  than  ever.  But  if  he  imagined  that 
it  was  going  to  be  all  plain  sailing  for  him,  now  that  the 
rivalry  of  the  opera  had  ceased,  he  was  grievously  mis- 
taken. The  failure  of  their  favourite  entertainment  only 
made  his  enemies  more  rabid  than  ever.  It  is  difficult  to 
comprehend  the  virulence  of  the  feeling  against  Handel 
that  raged  at  this  time  in  aristocratic  circles.  The  old 
quarrel  about  Senesino  can  have  had  very  little  to  do 
with  it,  since  many  of  Handel's  persecutors  were  hardly 
more  than  children  in  those  early  days.  Nor  can  the 
quarrel  have  turned  on  the  nature  and  quality  of  Handel's 
own  music ;  for  very  few  of  the  opposition  could  tell  a 
crotchet  from  a  quaver.  The  matter  was  purely  personal. 
Handel  was  an  incarnation  of  the  spirit  of  revolt  against 
the  old  system  of  patronage  that  had  ruled  the  world  of 
music  for  so  long.  Here  was  a  man  who,  while  every 
other  musician  in  the  land  remained  at  an  angle  of  forty- 
five   degrees   in   the    presence    of   his    princely   patrons, 

1 84  HANDEL 

resolutely  stood  upright,  went  his  own  way,  and  snapped 
his  fingers  in  their  ducal  faces.  What  was  to  be  done 
with  him?  They  had  made  him  a  bankrupt  once — and 
he  had  paid  his  debts  to  the  uttermost  farthing.  They 
had  hounded  him  almost  into  his  grave — and  here  he  was 
as  strong  and  hearty  as  ever.  But  this  time  they  vowed 
one  and  all  that  there  should  be  an  end  of  him.  It  was 
time  that  he  should  be  taught  his  place.  Was  a  mere 
musician,  a  man  who  ought  by  rights  to  be  a  liveried 
flunkey  in  the  servants'  hall — as  Haydn  a  few  years  later 
actually  was — to  defy  the  bluest  blood  in  England? 
Perish  the  thought !  So  the  chosen  leaders  of  the  English 
aristocracy  laid  their  heads  together,  and  devised  a  regular 
campaign  against  the  insufferable  upstart.  Women,  ever 
to  the  front  when  good  works  are  afoot,  led  the  crusade. 
A  certain  Lady  Brown,^  not  otherwise  known  to  history, 
is  damned  to  everlasting  fame  by  Burney  as  having 
"  distinguished  herself  as  a  persevering  enemy  of  Handel." 
She  and  her  friends  carefully  chose  the  evenings  of  his 
oratorios  for  their  balls  and  card-parties,  violating  what 

^  Lady  Brown  belonged  to  the  Cecil  family.  Her  husband,  Sir  Robert, 
had  at  one  time  been  Resident  at  Venice,  where  his  wife  acquired  a  taste  for 
Italian  music.  On  their  return  to  London  she  posed  as  a  patroness  of  foreign 
singers,  and  was  one  of  the  first  London  hostesses  to  give  regular  musical 
parties.  Horace  Walpole,  writing  to  Mann  in  1743,  mentions  the  Sunday 
evening  concerts  that  she  was  in  the  habit  of  giving,  according  to  Burney, 
"at  the  risk  of  her  windows,"  for  the  London  mob  in  those  days  was  nothing 
if  not  Sabbatarian.  Her  match-making  propensities,  and  later  in  life  her 
avarice,  seem  to  have  been  a  continual  source  of  amusement  to  thejeutzesse 
doree  of  London. 

Lady  Brown  is  also  mentioned  in  Martinelli's  correspondence  as  a  leading 
London  hostess.  "  Every  evening,"  he  writes,  "we  go  to  Mylady  Brown's 
conversazioni,  where  beauteous  ladies  and  charming  cavaliers  assemble  in 
large  numbers,  and  music  and  play  and  men  of  letters  combine  with  a  good 
supper  to  make  up  a  delightful  evening's  entertainment."  (Martinelli,  Lettere 
f ami  liar  i.) 


was  then  considered  the  sanctity  of  Lent  in  their  en- 
deavour to  crush  their  enemy.^  If  the  fascinations  of 
these  brilliant  assemblies  failed  they  eked  them  out  with 
mumming-shows,  such  as  that  supplied  by  a  miserable 
wretch  named  Russel,  whom,  after  he  had  served  their 
wanton  purpose,  they  allowed  to  be  thrown  into  prison  for 
the  debts  contracted  in  their  service.  There  he  lay  rotting 
until  his  munificent  patronesses  subscribed  the  sum  of  five 
pounds,  by  means  of  which  he  was  admitted  to  Bedlam, 
where  soon  afterwards  he  died,  a  raving  maniac.^ 

Victory  crowned  their  generous  efforts.  Handel's 
season  dragged  wearily  and  hopelessly  through  the 
winter.  His  concerts  were  sometimes  postponed,  some- 
times omitted  altogether.  In  vain  did  he  produce 
Hercules  on  the  5th  of  January,  and  Belshazzar  on  the 
27th  of  March  1745 — the  one  incomparably  the  greatest 
of  his  secular  oratorios,  the  other  a  masterpiece  entitled 
to  high  rank  among  his  sacred  works.  Nothing  would 
avail.  His  own  friends  gave  but  lukewarm  support,  and 
the  strain  of  the  ceaseless  struggle  seriously  affected  his 
health.  We  have  a  mournful  glimpse  of  him  in  a  letter 
of  his  old  friend  Lady  Shaftesbury  written  to  her  cousin 
James  Harris^  in  March  1745:  "My  constancy  to  poor 

^  Hawkins,  History. 

-  Smollett  refers  to  this  unfortunate  wretch  in  his  satire  Advice  : — 
"Again  shall  Handel  raise  his  laurelled  brow, 
Again  shall  harmony  with  rapture  glow  ! 
The  spells  dissolve,  the  combination  breaks, 
And  rival  Punch  no  more  in  terror  squeaks. 
Lo,  Russel  falls  a  sacrifice  to  whim 
And  starts  amazed  in  Newgate  from  his  dream, 
With  trembling  hands  implores  their  promised  aid 
And  sees  their  favour  like  a  vision  fade." 

^  James  Harris  was  the  eldest  of  three  brothers,  all  of  them  devoted  to 
music,  and  intimate  friends  of  Handel.     James,  the  eldest,  was  the  father  of 

1 86  HANDEL 

Handel  got  the  better  of  my  indolence,  and  I  went  last 
Friday  to  Alexander  s  Feast,  but  it  was  such  a  melancholy 
pleasure  as  drew  tears  of  sorrow  to  see  the  great  though 
unhappy  Handel,  dejected  wan  and  dark,  sitting  by,  not 
playing  on  the  harpsichord,  and  to  think  how  his  light 
had  been  spent  by  being  overplied  in  music's  cause.  I 
was  sorry,  too,  to  find  the  audience  so  insipid  and  taste- 
less (I  may  add  unkind)  not  to  give  the  poor  man  the 
comfort  of  applause;  but  affectation  and  conceit  cannot 
discern   or   attend   to    merit."  ^      Miss    Catherine   Talbot 

the  first  Lord  Malmesbury.  He  was  nicknamed  "Hermes"  Harris  after 
a  philosophical  work  of  that  title  which  made  some  stir  at  the  time.  Dr. 
Johnson  disliked  him  and  called  him  "a  prig,  and  a  bad  prig,"  but  no  one 
else  had  a  word  to  say  against  him.  He  lived  at  Salisbury,  where,  according 
to  a  recent  article  by  the  present  Lord  yizSxiit'ahMry  {The  Ancestor,  vol.  i.), 
Handel  was  a  constant  and  welcome  visitor  to  the  family  mansion  of  the 
Harrises,  and  often  took  part  in  amateur  concerts.  Harris  was  a  practical 
musician,  and  did  much  for  the  cause  of  music  in  Salisbury  and  its  neighbour- 
hood. His  son  wrote  of  him:  "The  superior  taste  and  skill  which  he 
possessed  in  music,  and  his  extreme  fondness  for  hearing  it,  led  him  to  attend 
to  its  cultivation  in  his  native  place  with  uncommon  pains  and  success ; 
insomuch  that,  under  his  auspices,  not  only  the  Annual  Musical  Festival  in 
Salisbury  flourished  beyond  most  institutions  of  the  kind,  but  even  the 
ordinary  subscription  concerts  were  carried  on  by  his  assistance  and  direc- 
tions, with  a  spirit  and  effect  seldom  equalled  out  of  the  Metropolis."  An 
extremely  interesting  set  of  the  rare  word-books  of  these  concerts  has  recently 
been  placed  at  my  disposal  by  my  friend  Mr.  Randall  Davies.  It  is  worth 
noting  that  in  a  letter  recently  published  {Hist.  MSS.  Comm.,  Report  xv. 
Appx.  pt.  2.)  Handel's  librettist  Morell  mentions  a  performance  oi  Jephtha 
given  at  Salisbury  under  James  Harris's  direction  as  having  been  the  best  he 
ever  heard,  and  the  word-books  testify  that  the  concerts  were  carried  out 
in  the  most  complete  and  elaborate  manner.  Thomas  Harris,  the  second 
brother,  was  a  master  in  Chancery.  He  witnessed  Handel's  will  and  three 
of  the  codicils  appended  to  it.  Under  a  fourth  and  last  codicil  he  received  a 
bequest  of  ;^300.  William,  the  third  brother,  was  the  parson  of  the  family. 
He  was  chaplain  to  the  Bishop  of  Durham,  and  rector  of  Egglescliffe  in  that 

^  Malmesbury  Papers,  vol.  i.  p.  2. 


joined  in  deploring  the  decadence  of  fashionable  taste. 
No  one,  she  complained,  seemed  to  care  for  anything  but 
crowded  assemblies.  "  Friendly  visits  and  private  parties 
are  things  gone  out  of  the  world ;  and  Handel,  once  so 
crowded,  plays  to  empty  walls  in  that  opera-house,  where 
there  used  to  be  a  constant  audience  as  long  as  there  were 
any  dancers  to  be  seen."  She  did  not  profess  to  be  a 
musician,  but  her  criticism  of  BelsJiazzar  is  admirable. 
"  Unfashionable  that  I  am,  I  was,  I  own,  highly  delighted 
the  other  night  at  his  last  oratorio.  'Tis  called  Belshazzar, 
the  story  the  taking  of  Babylon  by  Cyrus ;  and  the  music, 
in  spite  of  all  that  very  bad  performers  could  do  to  spoil 
it,  equal  to  anything  I  ever  heard.  There  is  a  chorus  of 
Babylonians  deriding  Cyrus  from  their  walls,  that  has 
the  best  expression  of  scornful  laughter  imaginable. 
Another  of  the  Jews,  where  the  name  Jehovah  is 
introduced  first  with  a  moment's  silence  and  then  with  a 
full  swell  of  music,  so  solemn  that  I  think  it  is  the  most 
striking  lesson  against  common  genteel  swearing  I  ever 
met  with."  ^  Soon  after  this  the  end  came.  The  season 
closed  abruptly  on  the  23rd  of  April.  Only  sixteen  of 
the  promised  twenty-four  concerts  had  been  given,  but 
the  performances  did  not  cover  their  expenses,  and 
Handel's  own  funds,  the  proceeds  of  his  successful  visit 
to  Ireland,  were  exhausted.  His  health  forbade  further 
efforts,  and  once  more  he  was  declared  a  bankrupt. 

Already  in  1743,  according  to  Hawkins,  he  had  had  a 
slight  turn  of  that  disorder  which  had  driven  him  to  Aix- 
la-Chapelle,2  and  the  fact  that  he  was  unable  to  take  his 
usual  share  in  the  performance  of  his  oratorios  proves 

^  Correspondence  of  Airs.  E.  Carter,  vol.  i.  p.  59, 

^  Hawkins,   History,   v.    358.       Horace   Walpole   wrote   in    May   1743  : 
"  Handel  has  had  a  palsy,  and  can't  compose." 

1 88  HANDEL 

plainly  enough  how  ill  he  was.  A  few  months'  rest, 
however,  and  probably  a  visit  to  one  of  his  favourite 
watering-places,  Tunbridge  Wells  or  Cheltenham,  put 
him  on  his  legs  again.  His  indomitable  spirit  rose 
superior  to  every  trial,  and  instead  of  giving  up  the 
struggle  in  despair  he  hired  the  Covent  Garden  theatre 
for  the  ensuing  Lent. 

In  a  letter  from  William  Harris  to  his  sister-in-law, 
dated  29th  August  1745,  we  find  the  composer  back  in 
London :  "  I  met  Mr.  Handel  a  few  days  since  in  the 
street,  and  stopped  and  put  him  in  mind  who  I  was,  upon 
which  it  would  have  diverted  you  to  have  seen  his  antic 
motions.  He  seemed  highly  pleased  and  was  full  of 
inquiry  after  you  and  the  Councillor  [Thomas  Harris]. 
I  told  him  I  was  very  confident  that  you  expected  a  visit 
from  him  this  summer.  He  talked  much  of  his  precarious 
state  of  health,  yet  he  looks  well  enough.  I  believe  you 
will  have  him  with  you  ere  long."  ^  The  health-giving 
breezes  of  Salisbury  Downs  and  the  motherly  care  of 
friendly  Mrs.  Harris  doubtless  combined  to  expedite 
Handel's  return  to  health,  and  in  October  Lord  Shaftes- 
bury could  report  progress :  "  Poor  Handel  looks  some- 
thing better.  I  hope  he  will  entirely  recover  in  due  time, 
though  he  has  been  a  good  deal  disordered  in  the  head."  ^ 
Recover  he  did,  and  to  such  purpose  that  his  apparent 
defeat  at  the  hands  of  his  malignant  enemies  was  con- 
verted into  a  victory,  the  most  brilliant  and  lasting  of  his 

^  Malmesbury  Papers,  vol.  i.  p.  3.  ^  Ibid.  vol.  i.  p.  9. 

THE  TURN  OF  THE  TIDE,  1745-1751 

WHEN  one  fine  August  morning  in  the  year  1745 
the  news  reached  London  that  Prince  Charles 
Edward  Stuart  had  landed  in  Scotland,  everybody 
laughed  incredulously.  People  had  almost  forgotten 
about  the  Jacobites.  They  seemed  to  belong  to  the  dim 
past  of  childhood,  and  to  be  the  stock-in-trade  of  the 
elderly  bores  who  babbled  about  the  'fifteen  and  the  times 
of  good  Queen  Anne.  But  the  days  passed  by,  and  the 
news  was  confirmed.  The  Pretender  unfurled  his  standard 
at  Glenfinnan,  and  the  clans  gathered  round  him. 
London's  incredulity  changed  to  annoyance.  The  Scot- 
tish rising  was  a  ridiculous  piece  of  impertinence — why  did 
not  some  one  go  out  and  put  a  stop  to  it?  Thereupon  Sir 
John  Cope  did  go,  but  it  needed  more  than  his  blundering 
and  bewildered  efforts  to  check  the  rebellion.  Prince 
Charlie  easily  eluded  him  among  the  fastnesses  of  the 
Grampians,  and  was  at  the  gates  of  Perth  while  Cope  was 
marching  upon  Inverness.  However,  London  still  pre- 
served its  superior  attitude,  and  when  the  ministers  pro- 
posed any  preventive  plans  to  the  King,  he  merely  replied, 
"  Pho !  don't  talk  to  me  of  that  stuff."  Then  came 
the  Prince's  triumphal  entry  into  Edinburgh,  and  the 
crushing  defeat  of  Cope  at  Prestonpans.     London  began 


to  get  nervous.  Horace  Walpole  admitted  in  a  letter  to 
Horace  Mann  that  the  defeat  had  frightened  everybody, 
though  the  King  still  pooh-poohed  the  whole  business. 
When  the  rebels  crossed  the  border,  fear  changed  to  con- 
sternation. Horace  Walpole  called  it  an  ugly  business, 
and  prided  himself  upon  not  despairing.  Then  followed 
the  siege  and  capture  of  Carlisle,  and  the  march  south  to 
Derby.  With  the  Highlanders  almost  at  their  doors  the 
citizens  of  London  made  up  their  minds  for  the  worst. 
Shops  were  shut,  and  all  business  was  suspended. 
There  was  a  run  on  the  Bank,  and  the  Guards  were 
marched  out  to  Finchley.  "  It  is  beyond  the  power  of 
words,"  wrote  William  Harris  to  his  sister-in-law,  "  to  de- 
scribe to  you  the  hurry  both  court  and  city  were  in."^ 
All  over  the  country  the  terror  was  the  same.  At  King's 
Lynn  they  talked  seriously  of  cutting  down  their  bridges 
to  keep  out  the  rebels,  and  beaching  ships  to  prevent  the 
French  from  entering  the  harbour.^  But  the  alarm  was 
needless.  In  a  few  days  came  the  news  of  the  rebels' 
retreat.  London  breathed  a  vast  sigh  of  relief,  and 
resumed  the  ordinary  avocations  of  life.  But  while 
it  lasted  the  alarm  had  been  a  real  one,  and  the 
sense  of  having  had  a  narrow  escape  was  so  strong  in 
men's  minds  that  it  occurred  to  Handel  to  write  an 
Occasional  Oratoi-io  celebrating  the  general  delight  at  the 
country's  escape  from  what  seemed  at  the  time  a  grave 
peril.  The  Occasional  Oratorio  was  somewhat  hastily  put 
together,  and  Handel  made  free  use  in  it  of  several  of  his 
earlier  works,  notably  of  Israel  in  Egypt,  but  it  is  hardly 
fair  to  call  it  a  pasticcio,  as  many  of  Handel's  biographers 
have   done,   since   it   contains   no    fewer  than    thirty-one 

^  Malmesbury  Papers,  vol.  i.  p.  21. 

*  Edmund  Pyle,  Memoirs  of  a  Royal  Chaplain,  p.  113. 


original  numbers.  It  was  performed  for  the  first  time 
on  the  14th  of  February  1746,  and  was  twice  repeated, 
the  performances  being  specially  designed,  according  to 
Handel's  advertisement,  "  to  make  good  to  the  subscribers 
that  favoured  him  last  season  the  number  of  performances 
he  was  not  then  able  to  complete." 

It  has  been  suggested  by  some  of  Handel's  biographers, 
notably  by  Schoelcher  and  Rockstro,  that  the  word 
"  Occasional  "  refers  to  this  tardy  fulfilment  of  Handel's 
obligations,  and  that  the  work  has  nothing  to  do  with  the 
rebellion.  It  is  true  that  it  was  produced  before  the 
battle  of  Culloden  finally  shattered  Charles  Edward's 
hopes,  but  the  following  letter,  written  by  William  Harris 
to  his  sister-in-law  on  the  8th  of  February  1746,  shows 
that  the  work  was  none  the  less  regarded  by  Handel's 
contemporaries  as  expressive  of  the  general  rejoicing : 
"  Yesterday  morning  I  was  at  Handel's  house  to  hear 
the  rehearsal  of  his  new  Occasional  Oratorio.  It  is  ex- 
tremely worthy  of  him,  which  you  will  allow  to  be  saying 
all  one  can  in  praise  of  it.  He  has  but  three  voices  for  his 
songs — Francesina,  Reinholt,  and  Beard ;  his  band  of 
music  is  not  very  extraordinary.  Du  Feche  ^  is  his  first 
fiddle,  and  for  the  rest  I  really  could  not  find  out  who 
they  were,  and  I  doubt  his  failure  will  be  in  this  article. 
The  words  of  his  oratorio  are  scriptural,  but  taken  from 
various  parts,  and  are  expressive  of  the  rebels'  flight  and 
our  pursuit  of  them.  Had  not  the  Duke  carried  his  point 
triumphantly,  this  oratorio  could  not  have  been  brought 
on."  2 

But  the  rebellion  of  1745  was  destined  to  give  birth 
to  a  more  famous  work  than  the  Occasional  Oratorio. 
The  victory  of  Culloden  on  the  i6th  of  April  1746  finally 

'  William  Defesch.  *  Malinesbtiry  Papers,  vol.  i.  p.  33. 

192  HANDEL 

crushed  the  Jacobite  cause,  and  raised  the  Duke  of 
Cumberland  to  the  rank  of  a  national  saviour.  The 
horrors  of  the  red  reign  of  terror  that  followed  Culloden 
were  ignored  or  condoned,  and  when  "  Billy  the  Butcher  " 
— as  even  his  own  soldiers  and  partisans  called  him — 
returned  to  London  in  July  he  was  the  hero  of  the 

A  medal  was  struck  in  his  honour,  and  the  thanks  of 
Parliament,  together  with  a  grant  of  twenty-five  thousand 
pounds  a  year,  were  poured  at  his  feet.  The  principal 
cities  of  England  vied  in  offering  him  civic  honours,  and 
the  poet  Collins  sang  his  sweetest  numbers  in  the  young 
warrior's  praise.  Handel  lent  his  voice  to  the  general 
acclamation,  and  celebrated  the  Duke's  triumph  in  the 
martial  strains  of  Judas  Maccabcsiis,  which  was  written  in 
July  and  August  1746  to  a  libretto  by  Thomas  Morell, 
and  produced  at  Covent  Garden  on  the  ist  of  April  1747, 
after  repeated  postponements  on  account  of  the  trial 
of  Lord  Lovat,  which  occupied  public  attention  to  the 
exclusion  of  everything  else.  Morell  was  an  amiable 
man  and  a  good  scholar.  He  furnished  Handel  with  the 
librettos  of  several  of  his  most  famous  oratorios.  In  a 
letter  written  after  Handel's  death,  Morell  has  given  some 
interesting  details  of  the  manner  in  which  he  and  the 
composer  worked  together :  "  And  now  as  to  Oratorios : — 
There  was  a  time  (says  Mr.  Addison),  when  it  was  laid 
down  as  a  maxim,  that  nothing  was  capable  of  being  well 
set  to  Musick,  that  was  not  nonsense.  And  this  I  think, 
though  it  might  be  wrote  before  Oratorios  were  in  fashion, 
supplies  an  Oratorio-writer  (if  he  may  be  called  a  writer) 
with  some  sort  of  apology  ;  especially  if  it  be  considered, 
what  alterations  he  must  submit  to,  if  the  composer  be 
of    an   haughty   disposition,   and   has   but   an   imperfect 


acquaintance  with  the  English  language.^  As  to  myself, 
great  lover  as  I  am  of  music,  I  should  never  have 
thought  of  such  an  undertaking  (in  which,  for  the  reasons 
above,  little  or  no  credit  is  to  be  gained)  had  not  Mr. 
Handel  applied  to  me  when  at  Kew  in  1746,  and  added 
to  his  request  the  honour  of  a  recommendation  from 
Prince  Frederick.  Upon  this  I  thought  I  could  do  as 
well  as  some  who  had  gone  before  me,  and  within  two  or 
three  days  carried  him  the  first  act  of  Judas  MaccabcEus, 
which  he  approved  of  '  Well,'  says  he,  '  and  how  are 
you  to  go  on  ? '  *  Why,  we  are  to  suppose  an  engage- 
ment, and  that  the  Israelites  have  conquered,  and  so 
begin  with  a  chorus  as  "  Fallen  is  the  foe,"  or  something 
like  it.'  *  No,  I  will  have  this,'  and  began  working  it, 
as  it  is,  upon  the  harpischord.  '  Well,  go  on.'  '  I  will 
bring    you    more    to-morrow.'       '  No,    something    now.' 

'So   fall    thy   foes,   O    Lord '     'That   will   do,'   and 

immediately  carried  on  the  composition  as  we  have  it 
in  that  most  admirable  chorus.  That  incomparable  air, 
'  Wise  men,  flattering,  may  deceive  us '  (which  was  the 
last  he  composed,^  as  '  Sion  now  his  head  shall  raise '  was 
his  last  chorus)  was  designed  for  Belshazzar,  but  that  not 
being  performed,  he  happily  flung  it  into  Judas  Maccabczus. 
N.B. — The  plan  of  Judas  Maccabmis  was  designed  as  a 
compliment  to  the  Duke  of  Cumberland,  upon  his  return- 
ing victorious  from  Scotland.  I  had  introduced  several 
incidents  more  apropos,  but  it  was  thought  they  would 
make  it  too  long,  and  they  were  therefore  omitted.  The 
Duke,  however,  made  me  a  handsome  present  by  the 
hands  of  Mr.  Poyntz.     The  success  of  the  oratorio  was 

^  Obviously  a  reference  to  Handel. 

^  This  is  a  mistake.     "  Wise  men,  flattering  "  is  an  adaptation  of  the  song 
"  Se  vuoi  pace,"  in  Agrippina. 


194  HANDEL 

very  great,  and  I  have  often  wished  that  at  first  I  had 
asked  in  jest  for  the  benefit  of  the  30th  night  instead  of 
a  3d.  I  am  sure  he  would  have  given  it  to  me  ;  on  which 
night  there  was  above  ;^400  in  the  house.  He  left  me  a 
legacy,  however,  of  ^200."^  Judas  MaccahcEus  marks  a 
very  important  point  in  the  history  of  Handel's  career. 
Its  production  was  the  turn  of  the  tide  of  his  fortunes. 
During  the  season  of  1747  Handel  abandoned  the  system 
of  subscription  performances,  and  threw  his  theatre  open 
to  all  comers.  This  change  of  policy  brought  its  own 
reward.  Finding  that  his  aristocratic  patrons  had  failed 
him,  Handel  turned  to  the  great  middle  class,  who  became 
his  ardent  supporters  and  brought  him  new  fame  and 

Fielding's  Amelia  gives  a  typical  description  of  a 
visit  to  the  oratorio  about  this  time.  Amelia  and  her 
friend  start  early  so  as  to  be  in  time  to  get  a  place  in 
the  front  row  of  the  gallery.  Though  they  arrived  "  full 
two  hours  before  they  saw  the  back  of  Mr.  Handel,"  they 
had  plenty  to  amuse  them.  A  gentleman  arrived  on  the 
scene,  who  was  at  once  smitten  with  Amelia's  charms. 
"  He  procured  her  a  book  and  wax  candle,  and  held  the 
candle  for  her  himself  during  the  whole  entertainment." 
Evidently  there  was  not  much  luxury  about  oratorio-going 
in  those  days,  but  it  was  the  Amelias  of  the  day  and 
their  friends  and  relations  who  were  the  chief  instruments 
of  Handel's  ultimate  triumph.'^  Soon  it  became  as  much 
the  fashion  to  admire  Handel  as  a  few  years  before 
it  had  been  to  decry  him.  Lady  Luxborough's  steward, 
who  paid  a  visit  to  London  in  the  spring  of  1748,  was 
nothing  if  not  up  to  date.     "  He  went,"  writes  his  mistress, 

1  Historical  MSS.  Commission,  Report  xv.  Appendix,  pt.  2. 

2  Fielding,  Amelia,  Bk.  iv.  ch.  vii. 


'  to  the  oratorio  of  Judas  Maccahceus,  where  he  was  highly 
entertained,  and  he  speaks  with  such  ecstasy  of  the  music, 
as  I  confess  I  cannot  conceive  any  one  can  feel  who  under- 
stands no  more  of  music  than  myself,  which  I  take  to  be 
his  case.  But  I  suppose  he  sets  his  judgment  true  to  that 
of  the  multitude,  for  if  his  ear  is  not  nice  enough  to 
distinguish  the  harmony,  it  serves  to  hear  what  the 
multitude  say  of  it."^ 

Handel  was  not  the  only  composer  who  tuned  his 
lyre  to  celebrate  the  victor  of  Culloden.  Gluck,  who  was 
then  in  London,  wrote  an  opera  called  La  Caduta  dei 
Giganti  in  praise  of  the  Duke  of  Cumberland.  It  was 
produced  in  1747,  but  does  not  appear  to  have  been  much 
appreciated,  indeed  its  failure  is  said  to  have  had  some- 
thing to  do  with  turning  Gluck's  thoughts  in  the  direction 
of  operatic  reform.  Handel  thought  very  poorly  of  Gluck 
of  whom  he  is  said  to  have  observed  that  he  knew  no 
more  of  counterpoint  than  his  cook  ;  which  very  likely  was 
hardly  an  exaggeration,  since  Waltz,  the  cook  in  question, 
had  developed  into  an  excellent  bass  singer  after  leaving 
Handel's  service,  whereas  Gluck's  operas  were  at  that 
time  very  slight  and  trivial  specimens  of  the  fashionable 
manner  of  the  day.  To  Gluck  himself,  however,  Handel 
seems  to  have  been  more  polite.  Gluck  called  on  him 
with  the  score  of  La  Caduta  dei  Giganti  under  his  arm, 
and  took  counsel  with  him  as  to  the  reasons  of  its  failure. 
"  You  have  taken  far  too  much  trouble  over  your  opera," 
said  Handel,  whose  operatic  experiences  seem  not  un- 
naturally to  have  left  him  rather  cynical  on  the  subject 
of  aristocratic  taste.  "  Here  in  England  that  is  mere 
waste  of  time.  What  the  English  like  is  something  that 
they  can  beat  time  to,  something  that  hits  them  straight 

^  Letters  written  by  Lady  Luxboroiigh  to  Williani  Shenstone,  1775,  p.  20. 

196  HANDEL 

on  the  drum  of  the  ear."  ^  Gluck  had  no  opportunity  of 
profiting  by  Handel's  advice,  as  he  left  London  soon 
afterwards  never  to  return,  but  his  gratitude  to  and 
admiration  for  the  great  man  never  failed.  Forty  years 
later,  Michael  Kelly,  who  sang  in  his  Iphigenia  in  Tauris 
in  Vienna,  had  a  proof  of  this  which  he  relates  in  his 
reminiscences :  "  One  morning,  after  I  had  been  singing 
with  him,  he  said,  '  Follow  me  upstairs,  Sir,  and  I  will 
introduce  you  to  one  whom  all  my  life  I  have  made  my 
study  and  endeavoured  to  imitate.'  I  followed  him  into 
his  bedroom,  and  opposite  to  the  head  of  the  bed  saw  a 
full-length  picture  of  Handel  in  a  rich  frame.  '  There, 
Sir,'  said  he,  '  is  the  portrait  of  the  inspired  master  of  our 
art.  When  I  open  my  eyes  in  the  morning  I  look  upon 
him  with  reverential  awe  and  acknowledge  him  as  such, 
and  the  highest  praise  is  due  to  your  country  for  having 
distinguished  and  cherished  his  gigantic  genius,' "  - 

Apropos  of  Judas,  Burney  gives  an  amusing  account 
of  an  encounter  with  Handel  at  the  house  of  Signora  Frasi, 
the  famous  singer :  "  At  Frasi's,  I  remember,  in  the  year 
1748  he  brought  in  his  pocket  the  duet  oi Judas  MaccabcBus, 
'  From  these  dread  scenes,'  in  which  she  had  not  sung 
when  that  oratorio  was  first  performed  in  1747.  At  the 
time  he  sat  down  at  the  harpsichord  to  give  her  and  me 
the  time  of  it,  while  he  sung  her  part  I  hummed  at  sight 
the  second  over  his  shoulder,  in  which  he  encouraged  me 
by  desiring  that  I  would  sing  out.  But  unfortunately 
something  went  wrong,  and  Handel  with  his  usual 
impetuosity  grew  violent — a  circumstance  very  terrific  to 
a  young  musician.  At  length,  however,  recovering  from 
my  fright,  I  ventured  to  say  that  I  fancied  there  was  a 

^  Schmid,  C.  W.  vott  Ghick,  p.  29. 
-  Kelly,  Reminiscences,  vol.  i.  p.  255. 


mistake  in  the  writing,  which  upon  examining  Handel 
discovered  to  be  the  case ;  and  then  instantly,  with  the 
greatest  good  humour  and  humility  said  :  *  I  beg  your 
pardon — I  am  a  very  odd  dog.  Master  Schmidt  is  to 
blame.' " 

Frasi  was  rather  a  favourite  of  Handel's.  She  had  a 
beautiful  voice,  but  was  no  musician,  and  incorrigibly  lazy. 
One  day  she  informed  him  that  she  was  going  to  learn 
thorough-bass,  in  order  to  be  able  to  accompany  herself. 
"  Oh,"  said  Handel,  "  what  may  we  not  expect !  "  ^ 

Judas  MaccabcBics  gave  some  colour  to  the  accusations 
which  had  been  levelled  against  Handel  in  the  days  of 
Saul  of  loving  noise  for  its  own  sake,  at  least  if  we  may 
believe  Miss  Elizabeth  Carter,  who  wrote  to  a  friend  soon 
after  the  production  of  the  work :  "  In  his  last  oratorio 
he  has  literally  introduced  guns,  and  they  have  a  good 
effect."  ^  Sheridan,  it  will  be  remembered,  had  a  hit  at 
the  supposed  noisiness  of  Handel's  music  in  his  burletta 
Jupiter,  an  early  sketch  for  The  Critic,  in  which  the  author 
whose  play  is  being  rehearsed  directs  that  a  pistol  shall 
be  fired  behind  the  scenes,  observing :  "  This  hint  I  took 
from  Handel." 

Not  a  little  of  the  success  of  Judas  Maccabcsus  was 
due  to  the  Jews  of  London,  who  hastened  to  patronise 
a  work  in  which  the  glory  of  their  national  hero  was 
extolled  with  so  much  spirit  and  eloquence.  Their 
numbers  were  not  very  imposing,  for  there  can  hardly 
have  been  more  than  7000  Jews  in  all  England  at  that 
time,^  but  they  were  for  the  most  part  men  of  substance, 
and  Handel,  realising  that  he  had  tapped  a  new  fount  of 
profit,  bade  his  trusty  Morell  draw  the  subject  of  his  next 

'  Burney,  Commemoration.  ^  Carter  Correspondence,  i.  134. 

^  Hertz,  British  Imperialism  in  the  Eighteenth  Century,  p.  63. 

198  HANDEL 

oratorio  from  the  same  Hebrew  source.  Morell  obeyed 
with  alacrity :  "  The  next  year,"  his  record  continues,  "  he 
desired  another,  and  I  gave  him  Alexander  Balus,  which 
follows  the  history  of  the  foregoing  in  the  Maccabees. 
In  the  first  part  there  is  a  very  pleasing  air,  accompanied 
with  the  harp,  *  Hark,  hark,  he  strikes  the  golden  lyre ! ' 
in  the  second  two  charming  duets,  '  O  what  pleasure  past 
expressing/  and  '  Hail,  wedded  love,  mysterious  law.' 
The  third  begins  with  an  incomparable  air  in  the  affetuoso 
style,  intermixed  with  the  chorus  recitative  that  follows  it. 
And  as  to  the  last  air  I  cannot  help  telling  you  that  when 
Mr.  Handel  first  read  it  he  cried  out,  '  Damn  your 
iambics  ! '  '  Don't  put  yourself  in  a  passion,  they  are 
easily  trochees.'  '  Trochees,  what  are  trochees  ?  '  '  Why, 
the  very  reverse  of  iambics,  by  leaving  out  a  syllable  in 
every  line,  as  instead  of  "  Convey  me  to  some  peaceful 
shore,"  "  Lead  me  to  some  peaceful  shore."  '  '  That  is  what 
I  want.'  '  I  will  step  into  the  parlour  and  alter  them 
immediately.'  I  went  down  and  returned  with  them 
altered  in  about  three  minutes,  when  he  would  have 
them  as  they  were,  and  had  set  them  most  delightfully, 
accompanied  with  only  a  quaver  and  a  rest  of  three 

Alexander  Balus  was  written  in  June  and  July  1747, 
and  produced  on  the  9th  of  March  1748.  In  spite  of  its 
subject  it  was  never  one  of  the  more  popular  of  Handel's 
oratorios,  and  was  eclipsed  in  general  favour  by  its 
immediate  successor,  Jos/ma,  which  was  written  in  July 
and  August  1747,  and  produced  on  the  23rd  of 
March  1748. 

In  Joshua  occurs  the  famous  "  See  the  conquering  hero 
comes,"  afterwards  transferred  to  Judas  Maccabceus,  with 
regard  to  which  Miss  Hawkins  tells  a  characteristic  story. 


Soon  after  it  was  completed,  Handel  played  it  to  Sir  John 
Hawkins,  and  asked  him  how  he  liked  it.  "  Not  so  well 
as  some  things  I  have  heard  of  yours,"  was  the  reply. 
"  Nor  I  neither,"  rejoined  Handel  ;  "  but,  young  man,  you 
will  live  to  see  it  a  greater  favourite  with  the  people 
than  my  other  fine  things."^ 

There  is  another  story  about  Joshua  told  by  Shield : 
"  Travelling  from  London  to  Taplow  with  the  father  of 
modern  harmony  (Haydn),  and  having,  the  preceding 
evening,  observed  his  countenance  expressing  rapturous 
astonishment  during  the  Concert  of  Antient  Music,  I 
embraced  the  favourable  opportunity  of  inquiring  how  he 
estimated  the  chorus  in  /oshua,  '  The  nations  tremble.' 
The  reply  was,  he  had  long  been  acquainted  with  music, 
but  never  knew  half  its  powers  before  he  heard  it,  and  he 
was  perfectly  certain  that  only  one  inspired  author  ever 
did  or  ever  would  pen  so  sublime  a  composition."  ^ 

Joshua  was  followed  in  due  course  by  Susanna,  which 
was  produced  on  the  loth  of  February  1749,  and  by 
Solomon,  produced  on  the  17th  of  March  1749.  The 
author  of  Susanna  is  not  known.  The  libretto  of  Solomon 
has  been  attributed  to  Morell,  but  there  is  no  authority 
for  the  ascription,  and  as  Morell  says  nothing  about  it  in 
his  letter  on  Handel  and  his  oratorios  which  has  already 
been  quoted,  the  probability  is  that  he  had  nothing  to  do 
with  it.  By  this  time  the  tide  had  definitely  turned  in 
favour  of  Handel.  Lady  Shaftesbury,  who  was  present 
at  the  first  performance  of  Susanna,  wrote :  "  I  think  I 
never  saw  a  fuller  house.  Rich  told  me  that  he  believed 
he  would  receive  near  ^^"400."  She  did  not,  however, 
care  much  about  Susanna  herself:  "  I  believe  it  will  not 
insinuate  itself  so  much  into  my  approbation  as  most  of 

^  Anecdotes,  1822.  2  Shield,  Introduction  to  Harmony. 

200  HANDEL 

Handel's  performances  do,  as  it  is  in  the  light  operatic 
style."  ^  But  others  seem  to  have  regarded  it  more 
favourably.  It  was  performed  four  times  during  the 
season,  Solomon  thrice,  Samson  and  The  Messiah  each  four 
times,  and  Hercules  twice.  During  the  oratorio  season  of 
1749  occurred  the  public  rejoicings  for  the  Peace  of 
Aix-la-Chapelle,  which  had  been  signed  in  October  1748. 
The  Peace  was  a  patched-up  sort  of  business,  and  whoever 
profited  by  it,  England  certainly  did  not.  But  every  one 
was  tired  of  the  war,  and  the  news  of  peace  was  received 
with  real  enthusiasm  in  this  country  at  any  rate.  Con- 
sequently the  celebrations  were  carried  out  on  a  grand 
scale.  The  great  feature  of  the  festivity  was  to  be  a 
display  of  fireworks,  for  which  a  "  machine,"  as  it  was 
called,  representing  a  Doric  temple,  114  feet  in  height 
and  410  feet  long,  was  designed  by  the  Chevalier 
Servandoni,2  and  erected  in  the  Green  Park.  Handel 
was  commissioned  to  write  music  for  the  festivity,  which 
was  to  precede  and  accompany  the  display  of  fireworks. 
The  building  in  the  Green  Park,  though  begun  in  the 
previous  November,  was  only  finished  on  the  day  before 
the  celebration.  Meanwhile  the  general  excitement  was 
working  itself  up  to  fever-heat.  Even  so  long  beforehand 
as  December  1748,  Lady  Jane  Coke  wrote  that  she  was 
tired  of  hearing  about  the  fireworks,  which  it  was  feared 
would  damage  the  houses  in  St.  James's  Street  and  break 
the  windows  in  the  Queen's  Library.^     Fireworks  were 

^  Malmesbury  Letters,  vol.  i.  p.  741. 

2  An  architect  and  artist  famous  in  his  day,  and  much  in  demand  at  the 
various  courts  of  Europe.  He  had  a  genius  for  stage  management,  and  at  the 
production  of  an  opera  at  Stuttgart  designed  a  triumphal  procession  in  which 
more  than  four  hundred  horses  are  said  to  have  taken  part.  His  best  known 
architectural  work  is  the  fagade  of  St.  Sulpice  at  Paris. 

^  Letters  of  Lady  Jane  Coke  to  Mrs.  Eyre,  p.  14. 


a  rarity  in  those  days,  and  everybody  who  could  possibly 
manage  it  was  coming  up  to  London  to  see  the  show. 
"  For  a  week  before,"  wrote  Horace  Walpole,  "  the  town 
was  like  a  country  fair,  the  streets  filled  from  morning  to 
night,  scaffolds  building  wherever  you  could  or  could  not 
see,  and  coaches  arriving  from  every  corner  of  the  kingdom. 
This  hurry  and  lively  scene,  with  the  sight  of  the  immense 
crowds  in  the  Park  and  on  every  house,  the  guards,  and 
the  machine  itself,  which  was  very  beautiful,  was  all  that 
was  worth  seeing."  Horace  had  little  to  say  in  praise  of 
the  fireworks  themselves,  and  Handel's  music  he  did  not 
so  much  as  mention.  "  The  fireworks  by  no  means 
answered  the  expense,  the  length  of  preparation,  and  the 
expectation  that  had  been  raised.  The  rockets  and 
whatever  was  thrown  up  into  the  air  succeeded  mighty 
well;  but  the  wheels  and  all  that  was  to  compose  the 
principal  part  were  pitiful  and  ill-conducted,  with  no 
changes  of  coloured  fire  and  shapes.  The  illumination 
was  mean,  and  lighted  so  slowly  that  scarce  anybody  had 
patience  to  wait  the  finishing  ;  and  then  what  contributed 
to  the  awkwardness  of  the  whole,  was  the  right  pavilion 
catching  fire  and  being  burnt  down  in  the  middle  of  the 
show.  The  King,  the  Duke,  and  Princess  Emily  saw  it 
from  the  Library,^  with  their  courts ;  the  Prince  and 
Princess,  with  their  children,  from  Lady  Middlesex's,  no 
place  being  provided  for  them,  nor  any  invitation  given 
to  the  Library."  ^ 

Handel's  music,  which  consisted  of  an  overture  and 
five  short  movements,  the  latter  intended  to  illustrate 
some  of  the  "  set  pieces,"  was  scored  for  fifty-six  wind 
instruments,   including   a   serpent,   this    being    the    only 

^  Built  by  Queen  Caroline  on  ground  now  occupied  by  Stafford  House. 
^  Letter,  vol.  ii. 

202  HANDEL 

occasion  on  which  he  ever  wrote  a  part  for  that  now 
forgotten  instrument,  though  a  note  preserved  among  the 
Handel  manuscripts  in  the  FitzwilHam  Museum  seems  to 
imply  that  it  was  used  in  performances  of  Samson  and 
Solomon.  At  that  time  the  serpent  was  said  to  be  a  good 
deal  used  in  French  orchestras,  though  it  was  rarely  to 
be  met  with  in  England  and  Germany.  When  Handel 
first  heard  it  he  is  said  to  have  asked,  "  What  the  devil 
be  that  ?  "  He  was  told  that  it  was  an  instrument  called 
a  serpent.  "  A  serpent ! "  he  replied  ;  "  Ay,  but  not  the 
serpent  that  seduced  Eve."  Handel's  music,  which  was 
ready  long  before  Servandoni's  pavilion,  was  publicly 
rehearsed  at  Vauxhall  Gardens  a  week  before  the  actual 
peace  celebration.  According  to  the  Gentleman  s  Magazine 
the  audience  on  that  occasion  reached  the  almost  incredible 
total  of  twelve  thousand  persons.  This  being  so  it  is  not 
surprising  to  read  in  a  description  of  the  proceedings : 
"  So  great  a  resort  occasioned  such  a  stoppage  on  London 
Bridge,  that  no  carriage  could  pass  for  three  hours.  The 
footmen  were  so  numerous  as  to  obstruct  the  passage, 
so  that  a  scuffle  ensued  in  which  some  gentlemen  were 
wounded."  At  the  fireworks  themselves  there  were 
accidents  as  well.  Horace  Walpole  says  that  two  people 
were  killed,  and  some  excitement  was  caused  by  the 
arrest  of  Servandoni  himself,  who  completely  lost  his  head 
when  his  cherished  pavilion  caught  fire,  and  drew  his 
sword  upon  the  Controller  of  the  Ordnance.  He  was 
taken  into  custody,  but  was  discharged  the  next  day  on 
asking  pardon  of  the  Duke  of  Cumberland.^ 

Handel's  music  survived  the  occasion  for  which  it  was 
composed.  He  gave  a  performance  of  it  at  the  Foundling 
Hospital  a  month  later,  together  with  a  selection  from 

^  Gentleman's  Masrazine. 


Solomon  and  a  new  anthem,  "  Blessed  are  they  that  consider 
the  poor,"  which  was  written  for  the  occasion.  The  Prince 
and  Princess  of  Wales  were  present,  and  the  Hospital 
must  have  netted  a  handsome  sum  by  the  performance, 
for  the  tickets  were  half  a  guinea  apiece,  and  the  audience 
amounted  to  over  a  thousand.  Handel  was  nothing  if 
not  charitable.  Through  the  darkest  days  of  his  manager- 
ship he  never  omitted  his  annual  performance  in  aid  of 
the  fund  established  for  the  benefit  of  decayed  musicians. 
It  will  be  remembered,  too,  that  TJie  Messiah  was  first 
given  for  a  charitable  object.  The  Foundling  Hospital 
benefited  more  than  any  other  institution  by  Handel's 
generosity.  He  followed  up  his  performance  of  the  Fire- 
works Music  in  May  1749  by  presenting  the  Hospital  with 
a  new  organ,  which  he  opened  in  person  with  a  perform- 
ance of  The  Messiah  on  the  ist  of  May  1750.  From 
that  time  until  his  death  Handel  continued  to  give 
at  least  one  performance  annually  of  The  Messiah  in  the 
Foundling  Chapel,  each  one  of  which  meant  an  addition 
of  some  ;^500  to  the  Hospital  exchequer.  In  his  will, 
too,  he  bequeathed  a  full  score  and  a  complete  set  of  parts 
of  his  masterpiece  to  the  Hospital,  a  gift  which,  according 
to  the  custom  of  the  time,  carried  with  it  the  right,  though 
not  the  exclusive  right,  of  performance.  The  Trustees  of 
the  Hospital  seem  in  this  case  to  have  acted  rather  a 
grasping  part.  Knowing  of  the  bequest  which  Handel 
had  made  in  their  favour,  they  determined  to  take  time 
by  the  forelock,  and  to  petition  Parliament,  during  the 
lifetime  of  the  composer,  to  accord  to  them  the  sole  right 
of  performing  The  Messiah.  This  was  more  than  Handel 
could  stand.  "  The  Devil !  "  he  cried  ;  "  For  what  shall  the 
Foundlings  put  mine  oratorio  in  the  Parliament?  The 
Devil !     Mine  Musick  shall  not  go  to  the  Parliament." 

204  HANDEL 

Meanwhile  the  oratorios  went  serenely  on.  Some 
were  more  successful  than  others,  but  on  the  whole 
Handel's  affairs  were  in  a  more  favourable  condition 
than  at  any  previous  period  of  his  career.  The  tide  had 
turned  at  last,  and  he  was  on  the  high  road  to  prosperity. 
His  health  was  good,  too,  and  in  every  way  fortune 
seemed  to  smile  upon  him.  Lord  Shaftesbury,  in  a 
letter  to  a  friend  dated  the  13th  of  February  1750,  gives 
a  pleasant  glimpse  of  the  composer :  "  I  have  seen 
Handel  several  times  since  I  came  hither,  and  think  I 
never  saw  him  so  cool  and  well.  He  is  quite  easy  in 
his  behaviour,  and  has  been  pleasing  himself  in  the 
purchase  of  several  fine  pictures,  particularly  a  large 
Rembrandt,  which  is  indeed  excellent.  We  have  scarce 
talked  at  all  about  musical  subjects,  though  enough  to 
find  his  performances  will  go  off  incomparably  well."^ 
Curiously  enough,  it  was  with  nature  rather  than  with 
man  that  Handel  had  now  to  contend.  In  the  early  part 
of  the  year  1750  London  was  visited  by  an  epidemic  of 
earthquakes.  People  were  thoroughly  frightened,  and 
numbers  went  into  the  country.  "  They  say  they  are 
not  frightened,"  laughed  Horace  Walpole,  "  but  that  it 
is  such  fine  weather,  Lord,  one  can't  help  going  into  the 
country."  ^  Mrs.  Montagu  noted  the  effect  upon  Handel's 
audiences :  "  I  was  not  under  any  apprehensions  about 
the  earthquake,  but  went  that  night  to  the  Oratorio,  then 
quietly  to  bed,  but.  the  madness  of  the  multitude  was 
prodigious.  Near  fifty  of  the  people  I  had  sent  to,  to 
play  at  cards  here  the  Saturday  following,  went  out  of 
town  to  avoid  being  swallowed,  and  I  believe  they  made 
a  third   part  of  the  number   I  asked,  so  that  you  may 

^  Malmesbury  Papers,  vol.  i.  p.  77. 
"  Walpole,  Letters,  vol.  ii.  p.  435. 


imagine  how  universal  the  fright  must  be.  The 
Wednesday  night  the  Oratorio  was  very  empty,  though 
it  was  the  most  favourite  performance  of  Handel's."  ^ 

Theodora,  which  had  been  composed  in  June  and  July 
1749,  was  produced  on  the  i6th  of  March  1750,  at  the 
height  of  the  earthquake  scare.  It  never  recovered  from 
its  unlucky  start,  or  won  a  tithe  of  the  popularity 
accorded  to  The  Messiah,  Samson,  or  Judas.  This  was 
partly  due,  no  doubt,  to  the  libretto,  which  was  far  from 
being  one  of  the  amiable  Morell's  triumphs.  "  Handel 
himself,"  Morell  wrote,  "valued  it  more  than  any  per- 
formance of  the  kind,  and  when  I  once  asked  him, 
whether  he  did  not  look  upon  the  Grand  Chorus  in 
The  Messiah  as  his  Masterpiece  ?  '  No,'  says  he,  '  I  think 
the  chorus  at  the  end  of  the  second  part  in  Theodora 
far  beyond  it,  "  He  saw  the  lovely  Youth."  '  The  second 
night  of  Theodora  was  very  thin  indeed,  tho'  the 
Princess  Amelia  was  there,  I  guessed  it  a  losing  night, 
so  did  not  go  to  Mr.  Handel  as  usual ;  but  seeing  him 
smile,  I  ventured,  when,  '  Will  you  be  there  next  Friday 
night,'  says  he,  '  and  I  will  play  it  to  you  ? '  I  told  him 
I  had  just  seen  Sir  T.  Hankey,  and  he  desired  me  to 
tell  you,  that  if  you  would  have  it  again,  he  would 
engage  for  all  the  Boxes.  '  He  is  a  fool ;  the  Jews  will 
not  come  to  it  (as  to  Judas)  because  it  is  a  Christian 
story;  and  the  ladies  will  not  come,  because  it  is  a 
virtuous  one.' "  ^ 

Apropos  of  Handel's  smile,  which  had  so  invigorating 
an  effect  upon  Morell's  nerves,  Burney  records  a  some- 
what similar  impression  of  the  great  man.  "  His  general 
look,"  he  says,  "  was  somewhat  heavy  and  sour,  but  when 

^  Climenson,  Elizabeth  Montagu,  vol.  i.  p.  274. 

^  Hist.  MSS.  Commission,  Report  xv.  Appendix,  pt.  2. 

2o6  HANDEL 

he  did  smile,  it  was  his  sire  the  sun  bursting  out  of  a 
black  cloud."  ^  Theodora,  however,  was  no  smiling  matter. 
The  public  would  not  have  it  at  any  price.  Some  of 
Handel's  friends,  according  to  Burney,  would  not  even 
take  tickets  for  it  as  a  gift,  though  they  begged  the 
composer  shortly  afterwards  to  give  them  seats  for 
The  Messiah.  This  was  too  much  for  Handel.  "  Oh, 
your  servant,  meine  Herren,"  he  cried,  "  you  are 
damnable  dainty !  You  would  not  go  to  Theodora. 
There  was  room  enough  to  dance  there,  when  that 
was  performed."  At  another  time,  however,  he  took  a 
humorous  view  of  the  situation,  and  when  some  one 
observed  that  the  house  was  half-empty,  replied :  "  Never 
mind,  the  music  will  sound  the  better."  ^ 

On  the  1st  of  May  1750  came  the  performance  of 
The  Messiah  at  the  Foundling  Hospital,  to  which 
reference  has  already  been  made.  This  was  so  successful 
that  it  had  to  be  repeated  on  the  15th,  many  persons  who 
had  actually  bought  tickets  for  the  first  performance 
being  unable  to  get  into  the  chapel.  In  June  and  July 
1750  Handel  was  engaged  upon  a  "musical  interlude" 
entitled  T]ie  Choice  of  Hercules.  In  the  composition 
of  the  work  he  utilised  a  good  deal  of  the  incidental 
music  which  he  had  written  a  few  months  previously 
for  Smollett's  play,  Alceste.  Rich  had  intended  to  mount 
Alceste  at  Covent  Garden  with  an  unusual  degree  of 
splendour.  Servandoni  had  been  commissioned  to  paint 
the  scenery,  and  Handel  seems  to  have  offered  to 
compose  the  music  in  liquidation  of  an  outstanding  debt. 
But  for  some  reason  or  other  Alceste  never  saw  the  light, 
and  the  play  itself  now  seems  to  be  irretrievably  lost. 
Soon    after    finishing    The    Choice    of  Hercules   on   the 

^  Burney,  Sketch  in  Commemoration.         "  Burney,  Conimevtoration. 


5th  of  July,  Handel  went  abroad  for  the  last  time. 
Whether  he  went  for  another  "  cure  "  to  Aix-la-Chapelle, 
or  paid  a  visit  to  his  niece  Johanna  Friderica,  now  married 
and  living  at  Halle,  is  not  known ;  in  fact  the  only  record 
of  the  trip  is  the  following  paragraph,  which  appeared  in 
the  General  Advertiser  oiXhe.  21st  of  August  1750 : — 

"  Mr,  Handel,  who  went  to  Germany  to  visit  his 
friends  some  time  since,  and  between  the  Hague  and 
Haarlem  had  the  misfortune  to  be  overturned,  by  which 
he  was  terribly  hurt,  is  now  out  of  danger." 

Meanwhile  an  old  friend  of  Handel's  had  been  getting 
into  serious  trouble.  Earlier  in  the  year  Francesca 
Cuzzoni,  the  heroine  of  the  operatic  squabbles  of  twenty 
years  before,  had  appeared  upon  the  scene  of  her  former 
triumphs.  She  was  middle-aged  by  this  time,  and  had 
squandered  all  the  money  that  she  had  made  in  her 
youth.  Her  voice  too  was  a  mere  shadow  of  what  it 
had  once  been.  Since  her  last  appearance  in  England 
her  career  had  been  singularly  chequered.  Her  first 
achievement  on  returning  to  Italy  had  been  to  poison 
her  husband  Sandoni  in  Venice.  She  was  tried  for  her 
life,  but  got  off  with  a  sentence  of  perpetual  banishment 
from  the  Republic,  For  the  next  ten  years  she  sang 
chiefly  in  Germany.  We  hear  of  her  at  Hamburg  and 
again  at  Stuttgart,  where  her  quarrels  with  Marianne 
Pirker,  a  rival  soprano,  recalled  the  days  of  the  Faustina- 
Cuzzoni  riots.^  When  she  arrived  in  England  Handel 
gave  her  an  engagement  for  old  acquaintance  sake,  and 
she  sang  in  one  of  his  performances  of  The  Messiah. 
But  her  day  was  over,  and  she  soon  sank  into  difficulties. 
In  August  1750  Horace  Walpole  wrote:  "Another 
celebrated  Polly  has  been  arrested  for  £10^  even  the  old 

^  Sittard,  Miisik  am  Wiirttembergischen  Hofe,  Bd,  ii. 

2o8  HANDEL 

Cuzzoni.  The  Prince  of  Wales  bailed  her — who  will  do 
as  much  for  him  ? "  ^  She  left  London  for  ever  soon 
afterwards,  and  died  a  few  years  later  in  great  poverty 
at  Bologna. 

Handel  was  back  again  in  London  by  the  end  of  the 
year,  and  in  January  1751  began  the  composition  of 
JepJitJia.  He  worked  at  this  until  the  23rd  of  February, 
when  ill-health  compelled  him  to  break  off,  and  he  did 
not  resume  his  task  until  the  month  of  June.  This 
forced  cessation  of  activity  was  doubtless  caused  by  a 
return  of  the  mental  disorder  which  first  drove  him  to 
the  baths  of  Aix-la-Chapelle,  aggravated  in  the  present 
instance  by  symptoms  of  the  blindness  which  was 
shortly  to  descend  upon  him.  Indications  of  the 
approaching  failure  of  his  sight  are  plainly  revealed  by 
a  glance  at  the  autograph  of  JephtJia.  His  health,  how- 
ever, permitted  him  to  take  part  in  two  performances  of 
TJie  Messiah  given  at  the  Foundling  Hospital  on  the 
1 8th  of  April  and  the  i6th  of  May  respectively,  at  the 
second  of  which,  according  to  the  Genej-al  Advertiser, 
he  played  a  voluntary  on  the  organ,  "  which  met  with 
universal  applause."  Soon  afterwards  he  paid  a  visit  to 
Cheltenham  and  tried  a  course  of  the  waters  there, 
returning  to  London  on  the  13th  of  June,  presumably 
restored  to  health.  He  resumed  work  on  Jephtha  a  {&-w 
days  later,  and  finished  it  on  the  30th  of  August.  The 
oratorio  was  produced  on  the  26th  of  February  1752. 
With  Jephtha  Handel  brought  to  a  close  the  long  series 
of  his  oratorios.  During  his  remaining  years  his  failing 
eyesight  made  composition  a  difficult  business,  and  his 
energies  were  devoted  chiefly  to  presiding  at  the  per- 
formances of  his  oratorios. 

^  Walpole,  Letters,  vol.  iii. 


T^HE  battle  was  won  at  last.     The  struggle  had  been 
long   and    severe,    but    Handel   had   come   out   a 
conqueror  in  the  end.     With  everything  against  him  he 
had  won  by  sheer  force  of  personality.     What  Pitt  was 
doing  in  the  world  of  politics,  Handel  had  done  in  the 
world  of  art.     Different  as  were  the  spheres  in  which  they 
worked,  "  the  Great  Commoner  "  and  the  composer  of  The 
Messiah  had  much  in  common,  and  the  cause  for  which 
they  fought  was  practically  the  same.     Both  were  poets 
in    an    age   of  prose,   transcendentalists    waging    mortal 
conflict   with   the   forces    of    materialism.      The    era   of 
Walpole   was  the  apotheosis  of  common  sense.     Under 
a   veneer   of  courtliness  and   polish   society  was   coarse, 
selfish  and  sceptical— sceptical  of  faith  and  enthusiasm^ 
sceptical    even    of    itself      "Every    one     laughs,"    said 
Montesquieu   on    his   visit   to  England,  "if  one  talks  of 
religion."     Morality  was  out  of  fashion,  drunkenness  and 
obscenity  were  thought  no  disgrace  to  the  highest  in  the 
land.     Every  man,  according  to  Walpole,  had  his  price. 
The   throne  was   occupied   by  a   dynasty  which   it   was 
impossible    to   respect,    loyalty    was   a    thing   forgotten, 
patriotism  an  empty  name.     But  the  very  commercialism 
of  Walpole's  rule  was  forming  a  race  full  of  promise  for 
the  future. 

210  HANDEL 

Through  the  long  years  of  peace  and  prosperity  a 
middle  class  was  being  created  which  held  the  future  in 
its  hand.  Inarticulate  at  first,  it  was  only  to  learn  its 
power  by  years  of  struggle  and  endeavour.  Of  this  class 
Pitt  was  the  spokesman.  He  had  sprung  from  it,  and  he 
knew  its  value.  "  It  is  the  people  who  have  sent  me 
here,"  he  cried  to  the  Cabinet  that  opposed  his  will.  In 
the  Parliament  of  that  day  he  stood  alone,  the  depth  of 
his  conviction,  his  fiery  energy,  his  poetic  imagination,  his 
appeal  to  the  higher  instincts  of  mankind  contrasting 
strangely  with  the  mercenary  opportunism  of  the  world  in 
which  he  moved.  England  rallied  round  the  man  whose 
hands  were  clean  in  an  age  of  corruption,  whose  life  was 
pure  in  the  midst  of  debauchery,  and  who  loved  his 
country  with  a  passionate  reverence  that  struck  a  new 
note  in  an  age  of  self-seeking  and  party  faction. 

Handel's  appeal  was  based  on  similar  grounds.  The 
turning-point  of  his  career  was  when  in  1747  he  threw  aside 
his  subscription  and  appealed  to  the  public  at  large.  The 
aristocracy  had  failed  him  and  he  turned  to  the  middle 
class.  There  he  found  the  audience  that  he  had  sought 
in  vain  in  the  pampered  worldlings  of  the  court.  The 
splendid  seriousness  of  Handel's  music,  its  wide  humanity, 
its  exaltation  of  thought,  its  unfaltering  dignity  of  utterance, 
had  fallen  on  deaf  ears  so  long  as  he  appealed  only  to  an 
aristocratic  audience.  It  was  in  the  heart  and  brain  of  the 
middle  class  that  Handel  found  at  last  an  echo  to  his 
clarion  call.  For  fifty  years  he  had  piped  in  vain  to 
princelings ;  he  turned  to  the  people  and  found  at  once 
the  sympathy  that  he  sought. 

But  neither  Pitt  nor  Handel  could  have  done  what  he 
did  had  not  English  thought  and  feeling  been  guided  to 
higher  levels  by  the  genius  of  one   of  the  greatest  men 


produced  by  the  eighteenth  century — John  Wesley.  To 
him  the  vast  if  gradual  change  that  came  over  society 
during  the  later  years  of  Walpole's  rule  was  mainly  due. 
The  religious  struggles  of  the  Civil  War  and  the  political 
struggles  of  the  Revolution  had  left  in  the  minds  of  the 
middle  class  one  overpowering  sentiment — a  craving  for 
peace.  This  craving,  fostered  by  Walpole,  who  saw  better 
than  any  one  what  England  wanted,  became  the  parent  of 
our  later  commercial  prosperity,  but  with  regard  to  the 
higher  claims  of  life  it  induced  something  very  like 
lethargy.  Of  the  attitude  of  society  towards  these  higher 
claims  during  the  first  half  of  the  century  we  have  already 
spoken.  Under  the  first  two  Georges  the  upper  class  was 
frankly  materialistic,  the  middle  class  apathetic,  and  the 
lower  class  not  far  removed  from  sheer  brutalisation. 

Doubtless  beneath  this  lethargic  exterior  England  was 
still  religious,  but  the  old  Puritan  spirit  seemed  asleep. 
It  was  the  voice  of  Wesley  that  woke  it  to  new  life.  The 
religious  revival  that  he  inaugurated  is  unparalleled  in  the 
history  of  the  English  people.  It  penetrated  every  part 
of  the  kingdom  and  every  stratum  of  society.  Its  strength 
and  importance  lay  in  the  fact  that  its  results  were  not 
merely  religious.  Pitt's  appeal  was  not  religious,  Handel's 
appeal  was  not  religious,  though  his  oratorios  dealt  for  the 
most  part  with  subjects  technically  termed  sacred  as 
opposed  to  secular.  Both  men  appealed  to  the  higher 
instincts  of  the  nation  from  a  wider  standpoint,  but 
without  the  influence  of  Wesley  ever  preaching  the 
seriousness  of  life  and  the  responsibility  of  the  individual, 
they  would  have  been  but  the  voices  of  men  crying  in  the 
wilderness.  The  audience  that  guffawed  over  the  Beggar's 
Opera  and  the  audience  that  rose  to  its  feet  to  honour  the 
sublime  strains  of  The  Messiah  were  one  and  the  same,  but 

2 1 2  HANDEL 

Wesley  had  breathed  new  life  into  dead  souls,  had  opened 
blind  eyes  and  unstopped  deaf  ears,  had  lifted  England 
from  its  slough  of  sensual  depravity  and  made  it  capable 
of  understanding  the  noblest  outpourings  of  human  genius. 
Meanwhile   the  threatening   blindness   was  becoming 
a  serious  menace  to  Handel's  future.     Towards  the  close 
of  the  year    175 1  he  consulted  Mr.    Samuel    Sharp,  the 
Surgeon  at  Guy's  Hospital,  who  gave  a  most  unfavourable 
report  of  his  prospect  of  retaining  his  sight.     His  spirits, 
usually  so  elastic,  sank,  it  is  said,  beneath  this  terrible 
blow.     But  he  would  not  give  up  the  contest  without  a 
struggle.     The  sight  of  one  eye  was  already  gone,  but 
there  was  a  hope   of  saving   the  other.     His  symptoms 
were   those   of  incipient  gutta   seretia,   a   disease   which 
necessitated    a    most    painful    operation.       Three   times 
Handel   submitted    to   this,   but    in    vain.      His   friends 
watched  the  course  of  the  malady  with  anxious  sympathy. 
In   November    175 1    Mrs.  Delany  wrote   to    her   sister: 
"  Did  you  hear  that  poor  Handel  has  lost  the  sight  of  one 
of  his  eyes  ?  "  and  a  year  later :  "  I  hear  he  has  now  been 
couched,  and  found  some  benefit  from  it."     But  all  hopes 
were  delusive.     On  the  30th  of  January  1753  the  London 
Evening-  Post  informed  its  readers  that :  "  Mr.  Handel  has 
at  length,  unhappily,  quite  lost  his  sight.     Upon  his  being 
couched  some  time  since,  he  saw  so  well  that  his  friends 
flattered  themselves  his  sight  was  restored  for  a  continu- 
ance, but  a  few  days  have  entirely  put  an  end  to  their  hopes." 
Like  Milton,  whose  poetry  he  had  set  to  such  incom- 
parable music,  he  was  to  end  his  days  in  darkness,  but 
like  Milton  he  made  up  his  mind  to — 

' '  Argue  not 
Against  Heaven's  hand  or  will,  nor  bate  a  jot 
Of  heart  or  hope ;  but  still  bear  up,  and  steer 
Right  onward." 


His  eyes  were  useless  or  very  nearly  so  — "  so  thick  a 
drop  serene  had  quenched  their  orbs" — but  his  fingers 
were  as  nimble  as  ever.  He  hastily  summoned  to  his  aid 
the  younger  Smith,  the  son  of  his  old  friend  Johann 
Christopher  Schmidt.  Smith  was  then  travelling  on  the 
Continent,  but  he  returned  at  once,  and  with  his  assistance 
Handel  contrived  to  continue  the  series  of  his  oratorio 
concerts.  Handel's  own  share  of  the  performance  was 
confined  to  playing  organ  concertos  between  the  parts 
of  his  oratorios.  "  During  the  oratorio  season,"  says 
Burney,  "  I  have  been  told  that  he  practised  inces- 
santly ;  and  indeed  that  must  have  been  the  case, 
or  his  memory  uncommonly  retentive,  for,  after  his 
blindness,  he  played  several  of  his  old  organ  concertos, 
which  must  have  been  previously  impressed  upon  his 
memory  by  practice.  At  last,  however,  he  rather  chose 
to  trust  to  his  inventive  powers  than  those  of  reminis- 
cence, for,  giving  the  band  only  the  skeleton  or 
ritornels  of  each  movement,  he  played  all  the  solo 
parts  extempore,  while  the  other  parts  left  him  ad 
libihivi  waiting  for  the  signal  of  a  shake,  before  they 
played  such  fragments  of  symphony  as  they  found  in 
their  books."  ^ 

Another  reminiscence  of  Handel's  blindness  tells  of 
the  emotion  of  the  audience  during  a  performance  of 
Samson^  when  Beard  sang  with  great  feeling  the  famous 
air: — 

"Total  eclipse!     No  sun,  no  moon! 
All  dark  amid  the  blaze  of  noon." 

The  spectacle  of  the  blind  composer  seated  by  the 
organ  listening  to  the  strains  in  which  he  seemed  by  some 
prophetic    touch   to    have    bewailed    his   own   affliction, 

'  Burney,  Coiin/ienioradon. 

214  HANDEL 

affected  those  present  so  forcibly  that  many  of  them  were 
moved  to  tears.^ 

Handel  was  not  the  only  blind  musician  of  that  epoch. 
The  feats  of  John  Stanley  had  already  excited  the  wonder 
and  admiration  of  his  contemporaries.  Stanley  had  been 
blind  since  the  age  of  two,  but  his  affliction  interfered  in 
no  way  with  the  exercise  of  his  profession.  In  the  first 
days  of  Handel's  blindness,  when  he  was  unable  to  take 
part  in  the  performance  of  his  oratorios,  his  surgeon,  Mr. 
Sharp  recommended  Stanley  to  him,  as  a  man  whose 
memory  never  failed.  Upon  this,  Handel,  whose  sense  of 
humour  never  deserted  him,  burst  into  a  loud  laugh  and 
cried :  "  Mr.  Sharp,  have  you  never  read  the  Scriptures  ? 
Do  you  not  remember,  if  the  blind  lead  the  blind,  they 
both  fall  into  the  ditch."  ^  Afterwards,  however,  he  found 
Stanley's  assistance  very  valuable,  and  after  Handel's 
death  the  performances  of  his  oratorios  were  continued  by 
Smith  and  Stanley  in  concert. 

The  closing  years  of  Handel's  life,  in  spite  of  the 
grievous  affliction  under  which  he  laboured,  were  smoothed 
by  the  universal  recognition  of  his  genius  and  by  the 
enormous  popularity  which  his  oratorios  enjoyed.  He 
lived  a  very  quiet  life,  absorbed  by  music  and  the  com- 
panionship of  a  few  old  friends.  Even  in  his  younger 
days  he  had  gone  but  little  into  society,  save  to  preside 
at  the  concerts  given  by  the  Royal  Family,  the  Duke  of 
Rutland,  Lord  Burlington,  and  other  patrons  and  friends. 
Now  his  circle  was  sadly  narrowed.  The  Prince  of  Wales 
died  in  175 1,  but  Handel  was  not  permitted  to  immortalise 
his  memory  as  he  had  immortalised  that. of  his  mother, 
Queen  Caroline.  Frederick,  pursued  by  his  father's  hatred 
even  beyond  the  tomb,  was  buried  in  Henry  VIl's  chapel 
^  Coxe,  Anecdotes  of  Hatidel. 


"without  either  anthem  or  organ  "^  and  Handel's  music 
was  heard  no  more  in  Carlton  House.  During  the  last 
few  years  of  his  life  he  rarely  left  his  house  in  Brook 
Street  save  to  make  an  expedition  to  the  City  for  the 
purpose  of  investing  the  money  that  he  made  by  his 
concerts.  Considering  that  these  only  took  place  during 
Lent,  it  is  indeed  a  remarkable  fact  that  although  a  bank- 
rupt in  1746  he  died  worth  ^20,000.  Burney  relates  that 
a  friend  of  his,  "who  was  generally  at  the  performance 
of  each  oratorio  in  the  year  1759  and  who  used  to  visit 
Handel  after  it  was  over  in  the  treasury  of  the  theatre's 
office,  said  that  the  money  he  used  to  take  to  his  carriage 
of  a  night,  though  in  gold  and  silver,  was  as  likely  to 
weigh  him  down  and  throw  him  into  a  fever,  as  the  copper 
money  of  the  painter  Correggio,  if  he  had  as  far  to  carry 
it."  James  Smyth  told  Bernard  Granville  that  during 
his  last  season  Handel  made  £igSO  by  his  oratorios. 
Handel's  blindness  prevented  him  from  composing  much 
during  these  closing  years.  His  most  important  work  was 
the  remodelling  of  his  early  oratorio,  //  Trionfo  del  Tempo, 
which  it  will  be  remembered  had  been  performed  in  a 
revived  and  enlarged  form  in  the  year  1737.  It  was  now 
translated  into  English  by  Morell,  and  enlarged  by  the 
addition  of  seventeen  additional  pieces,  a  few  of  which 
were  entirely  new  and  must  have  been  dictated  by  Handel 
to  Smith,  The  rest  were  adapted  from  earlier  works. 
In  its  new  form  The  Triumph  of  Time  and  Truth  was 
produced  on  the  nth  of  March  1757.  It  was  evidently 
much  liked,  since  it  was  given  no  fewer  than  four  times  in 
1757  and  twice  in  1758.  Time  had  not  robbed  Handel's 
touch  of  its  old  mastery.  Still  in  his  ashes  lived  their 
wonted  fires.     The  new  numbers  in  The  Triumph  of  Time 

^  George  Bubb  Dodington,  Diary. 

2i6  HANDEL 

and  Truth  are  in  no  sense  inferior  to  the  old,  while  the 
duet  and  chorus,  "  Sion  now  her  head  shall  raise,"  which 
was  added  to  Judas  Maccabceus  in  1758,  is  one  of  the 
finest  numbers  Handel  ever  wrote.  Up  to  the  last  he  was 
still  busy.  In  March  1759  Solomon  and  Susanna  were 
performed,  in  each  case  "  with  new  additions  and  altera- 
tions." These  alterations,  however,  may  very  possibly 
have  been  made  some  years  previously,  and  Burney  states 
positively  that  "  Sion  now  her  head  shall  raise "  was 
actually  the  last  piece  composed  by  Handel.  It  is  worth 
noting  by  those  who  are  exercised  in  mind  by  Handel's 
use  of  themes  taken  from  the  works  of  other  composers, 
that  this  number  is  founded  upon  a  melody  by  Bononcini. 
Whatever  may  be  thought  of  Handel's  artistic  morality, 
it  had  at  any  rate  the  virtue  of  consistency !  Handel 
seems  to  have  relinquished  few  of  his  ordinary  pursuits  in 
consequence  of  his  blindness.  We  hear  of  him  playing 
at  a  concert  at  Mrs,  Donnellan's  in  1755,  and  helping 
Bernard  Granville  to  choose  an  organ  in  the  following 

One  of  the  latest  recorded  incidents  of  Handel's 
career  relates  to  his  old  friend  John  Christopher  Schmidt, 
or  Smith  as  he  now  called  himself,  who  had  been  his 
constant  companion  for  forty  years.  About  four  years 
before  his  death,  he  paid  a  visit  to  his  favourite  watering- 
place,  Tunbridge  Wells,  accompanied  by  Smith.  They 
quarrelled,  as  old  friends  will,  over  some  absurd  trifle, 
and  parted  in  anger,  vowing  never  to  see  each  other 
again.  The  younger  Smith,  however,  remained  with 
Handel,  and  one  day  shortly  after  the  quarrel  Handel 
took  his  faithful  secretary  by  the  hand,  and  told  him  that 
he  had  made  up  his  mind  to  put  his  name  in  his  will  in 

^  Correspondence  of  Mrs.  Delany,  vol.  iii. 


place  of  his  father's.  Smith,  however,  declared  that  if 
Handel  did  so,  he  would  instantly  quit  him  and  take  no 
further  share  in  his  oratorio  performances,  "  for,"  he  added, 
what  will  the  world  think,  if  you  set  aside  my  father 
and  leave  his  legacy  to  me?  They  will  suppose  that  I 
tried  and  succeeded  in  undermining  him  for  my  own 
advantage."  Handel  yielded  the  point,  and  shortly  after- 
wards he  was  reconciled  to  Smith  the  father  through  the 
intercession  of  the  son. 

The  end  came  with  startling  suddenness.  Some 
months  before  his  death,  his  appetite — usually  a  large  one, 
as  is  not  unfrequent  in  men  of  powerful  intellect — had 
failed.  He  took  this  as  a  presage  of  his  approaching  end, 
but  did  not  on  that  account  give  up  his  usual  occupations. 
He  conducted  a  performance  of  The  Messiah  on  the  6th 
of  April  with  no  lack  of  his  accustomed  energy,  but  at  the 
end  of  it  he  was  seized  with  a  faintness  which  sent  him 
at  once  to  his  bed.  He  never  rose  again,  but  died  some 
time  in  the  night  between  the  13th  and  14th  of  April 
1759.  It  is  curious,  in  the  case  of  so  celebrated  a  man, 
that  there  should  be  any  doubt  as  to  the  hour  at  which 
he  expired,  yet  such  is  the  case.  Dr.  Warren,  who 
attended  the  composer  in  his  last  illness,  told  Burney 
that  Handel  died  before  midnight  on  the  13th.  James 
Smyth,  on  the  other  hand,  who  was  Handel's  most 
intimate  friend,  in  a  letter  to  Bernard  Granville,  the 
brother  of  Mrs.  Delany,  and  another  of  the  composer's 
dearest  friends,  distinctly  states  that  he  died  on  the  14th 
at  eight  o'clock  in  the  morning.  Neither,  however,  seems 
to  have  been  present  at  the  actual  moment  of  death. 
Handel's  funeral  took  place  on  the  20th  of  April  at  about 
eight  o'clock  in  the  evening.  He  was  buried  in  the  so- 
called  Poets'  Corner,  in  the  south  transept  of  Westminster 

21 8  HANDEL 

Abbey,  in  the  presence  of  "  a  vast  concourse  of  persons  of 
all  ranks,  not  fewer  than  three  thousand  in  number."  ^ 

The  monument  by  Roubiliac,  which  adorns  the 
sepulchre,  was  erected  in  1762.  It  has  the  faults  of  its 
creator  and  its  period,  but  it  is  a  spirited  piece  of  work, 
and  was  pronounced  by  contemporary  critics  to  be  the 
best  portrait  of  Handel  in  existence. 

With  regard  to  Handel's  external  semblance  we  are, 
indeed,  rich  in  documents.  Many  excellent  portraits 
survive,  and  we  possess  descriptions  of  him  by  contempor- 
ary writers,  from  which  it  not  difficult  to  gather  an  idea  of 
the  man  in  his  habit  as  he  lived.  His  large  and  portly 
person,  his  awkward  gait,  his  features — somewhat  severe 
in  expression  until  illuminated  by  a  sudden  smile — all 
these  are  as  familiar  to  us  as  they  were  to  his  con- 
temporaries. The  character  of  the  man  is  more  difficult 
to  come  by.  Like  most  men  of  exceptional  power  and 
grandeur  of  mind,  he  was  too  far  above  his  contemporaries 
for  them  to  realise  his  true  greatness.  They  saw  only  the 
superficial  aspects  of  his  personality,  and  the  little  foibles 
or  eccentricities  of  his  character.  Judging  him  by  their 
own  standard,  they  found  him  wanting  in  many  of  the 
minor  graces  that  smooth  the  trivial  round  of  life.  He 
had  a  hasty  temper,  and  habitually  swore  like  a  trooper. 
His  manner  was  often  rough  and  peremptory,  but 
he  never  bore  malice.  He  cared  little  for  the  world 
of  civil  formality,  and  was  happier  at  home  with  a  few 
chosen  friends  about  him,  than  in  dancing  attendance 
upon  empty-headed  aristocrats  whom  he  could  not  but 
despise  in  his  heart.  This  independent  behaviour  of  his 
often  stood  in  the  way  of  his  success,  but  he  never  yielded 
an  inch  where  dignity  and   self-respect  were   concerned. 

^  Gentleman's  Magazine. 


He  was  said  to  be  ignorant  and  dull  outside  the  affairs  of 
his  own  profession — a  charge  often  brought  against  those 
whose  tastes  happen  not  to  coincide  with  the  fashionable 
follies  of  the  hour.  He  was,  on  the  contrary,  a  man  of 
considerable  cultivation.  His  education  had  been  far 
more  complete  than  was  then  usual  in  the  case  of 
musicians,  and  his  admirable  taste  in  art  matters  is 
mentioned  by  several  contemporaries  who  were  well 
qualified  to  judge.  His  amiable  biographers  have  unan- 
imously attempted  to  persuade  themselves  and  their 
readers  that  Handel  was  what  is  called  a  pious  man. 
Everything  on  the  contrary  goes  to  prove  that  his  religion 
was  eminently  of  the  type  which,  as  Disraeli  observed, 
all  sensible  men  profess,  but  no  sensible  man  talks 
about.  According  to  Hawkins  he  often  spoke  of  his  good 
fortune  in  having  taken  up  his  abode  in  a  country  where 
no  one  suffered  any  molestation  or  inconvenience  on 
account  of  his  religious  opinions.  This  does  not  sound 
like  the  utterance  of  a  very  ardent  Christian,  and  there 
is  something  suspicious,  too,  about  the  sacred  rapture 
with  which  the  venerable  Hawkins  recorded  the  fact  that 
during  the  last  two  or  three  years  of  his  life  Handel 
attended  divine  service  at  St.  George's,  Hanover  Square. 
Dr.  Beattie,^  writing  in  1780,  professes  to  believe  that 
Handel,  "  in  spite  of  all  that  has  been  said  to  the  contrary, 
must  have  been  a  pious  man,"  so  it  is  plain  that  his  con- 
temporaries were  by  no  means  unanimous  upon  the  point. 
Handel's  description  of  his  feelings  while  composing  the 
"Hallelujah"  chorus:  "  I  did  think  I  did  see  heaven 
opened  and  the  great  God  Himself,"  have  often  been 
quoted  as  an  illustration  of  the  sincerity  of  his  religion. 
It  has,  as  a  matter  of  fact,  nothing  to  do  with  the  question. 
^  Forbes,  Life  and  Writings  of  James  Beattie,  1807,  p.  331. 

2  20  HANDEL 

It  merely  shows  that  he  was  a  man  of  powerful  imagina- 
tion. Doubtless  while  he  was  writing  the  "  Hallelujah  " 
chorus  his  imagination  conjured  up  a  vision  of  the  glory 
of  heaven.  Similarly,  while  writing  his  famous  chorus  of 
devil-dancers  in  JepJitha,  he  saw  with  the  inward  eye 
the  high  places  of  Canaan  and  "  the  dismal  dance  around 
the  furnace  blue."  But  he  has  never  been  claimed  on  that 
account  as  a  worshipper  of  Moloch.  But  speculations  of 
this  sort  are  idle  at  best.  It  is  wiser  to  turn  to  Handel's 
works,  where  the  man  and  his  character,  his  hopes  and 
beliefs,  his  dreams  and  ambitions  are  writ  large  for  all  to 


HANDEL'S  operas  are  singularly  difficult  to  discuss 
in  terms  of  ordinary  criticism.     They  were  ex- 
travagantly praised  by  the  connoisseurs  of  his  time,  but 
their   vogue    was   brief.      Five  -  and  -  twenty    years    after 
Handel's  death  they  had  passed  almost  entirely  from  the 
current  repertory,  and  save  for  the  revival  of  Alinira  in 
1874  on  the  occasion  of  the  opening  of  the  new  Hamburg 
opera-house,  it  must  be  considerably  more  than  a  hundred 
years   since   any  one   of  them    was    publicly  performed. 
Compared  with  his  oratorios,  they  now  seem  sadly  remote 
from    the    circle    of    modern    sympathy.      Opera    since 
Handel's  day  has  developed  with  extraordinary  rapidity, 
whereas  oratorio  has  tended    to  advance  but  little  upon 
specially  characteristic   lines.     To   the   average  historian, 
therefore,  Handel's    oratorios   still    represent  the  highest 
point   hitherto  reached  in  this    particular  department  of 
music,    while    his    operas    are    usually    dismissed    as    a 
negligible  quantity.     It  is  true  that  the  most  revolutionary 
changes   in    public   taste   could  hardly  restore    Handel's 
operas  to  the  stage,  at  any  rate  under  the  conditions  in 
which   they   were   performed    in    his    lifetime.     The   dis- 
appearance of  that  repulsive  anomaly,  the  male  soprano, 
has  made  it  impossible  for  us  to  give  a  faithful  reproduc- 

22  2  HANDEL 

tion  of  eighteenth  century  opera.  Yet  in  an  adapted  form 
Handel's  operas  might  still  find  a  public,  fit  though  few. 
There  is  no  reason  why  those  who  still  have  ears  for 
Gluck  should  not  appreciate  the  beauties  of  Handel.  It 
is  plain  that  a  work  written  for  the  stage  cannot  be 
properly  judged  in  the  study,  and  until  Handel's  operas 
have  been  performed  on  the  boards  they  cannot  be 
dismissed  as  trifling  or  ineffective.  His  conventions 
differ  widely,  it  is  true,  from  those  affected  by  the 
composers  of  our  day,  but  even  here  he  has  been  mis- 
judged by  many  who  have  discussed  his  methods.  It  is 
generally  said,  for  instance,  that  his  operas  are  nothing 
but  a  string  of  solos  and  duets,  with  a  solitary  chorus  to 
bring  down  the  curtain. 

A  cursory  examination  of  the  works  in  question 
reveals  that  this  is  not  the  case.  Handel  used  the  chorus 
in  his  operas  more  freely  than  is  usually  stated,  and  when 
occasion  demanded  he  wrote  concerted  numbers  for  solo 
voices  in  a  manner  ordinarily  looked  upon  as  the 
invention  of  a  later  age.  In  the  opera  of  Alcina,  for 
example,  the  chorus  is  freely  used  in  the  scenes  in  which 
the  victims  of  the  enchantress  Alcina  appear,  and  there  is 
a  trio  in  which  the  conflicting  passions  of  three  characters 
are  painted  with  extraordinary  power.  Agrippina  has 
several  short  concerted  movements,  and  in  Radamisto 
there  is  an  elaborate  and  highly  dramatic  quartet.  It  is 
noticeable,  too,  that  as  Handel  advanced  in  years  and 
experience  he  employed  the  chorus  more  extensively.  In 
his  latest  operas,  such  as  Giustino,  Ivieneo,  and  Deidamia, 
the  chorus  plays  a  decidedly  more  important  part  than  in 
his  earlier  works.  But  at  no  time  did  Handel  permit  the 
rules  and  conventions  that  governed  opera  in  his  day 
to  override   his  own  judgment.     What  these  rules  and 


conventions  were  may  be  read  in  Rockstro's  Handel,  but 
as  that  learned  historian  was  obHged  to  admit  that 
Handel  paid  little  attention  to  them,  and  indeed 
contravened  them  in  every  opera  that  he  wrote,  it  does 
not  seem  advisable  to  linger  over  them.  Handel  followed 
the  fashion  of  his  day  in  the  construction  of  his  librettos, 
in  the  introduction  of  the  inevitable  confidantes  and  the 
no  less  inevitable  underplot,  but  within  certain  limits  he 
permitted  himself  all  the  freedom  that  he  desired.  The 
conventions  of  one  age  always  appear  foolish  to  another, 
but  we  must  not  let  them  blind  us  to  the  value  of  the 
work  with  which  they  are  associated.  But  apart  from 
convention,  Handel's  view  of  opera  differed  widely  from 
that  of  our  day.  He  treated  it  lyrically  rather  than 
dramatically,  and  who  shall  say  that  he  was  wrong?  In 
our  time  opera  has  tended  more  and  more  to  approach 
the  confines  of  drama.  Disregarding  the  one  immutable 
convention  by  which  opera  exists  as  an  art-form — the 
substitution  of  song  for  speech — we  aim  at  a  bastard 
realism,  striving  to  bring  the  song  of  opera  as  near  as 
possible  to  the  speech  of  drama.  Nothing  can  make 
opera  realistic ;  it  is  conventional  in  essence ;  the  less 
lyrical  and  the  more  dramatic  it  is,  the  less  has  it  a  reason 
for  separate  existence.  Handel  set  his  dialogue  as 
recitative,  and  when  a  lyrical  moment  called  for  an 
intenser  method  of  utterance  he  rose  into  song.  With 
what  success  he  did  so  cannot  be  declared  until  one  of  his 
operas  has  been  heard  upon  the  stage,  but  no  one  who 
accepts  Mozart  as  a  master  of  opera  can  condemn  Handel 
on  the  ground  of  form.  Certain  conventions  apart,  the 
two  men  worked  upon  similar  lines,  and  I  have  a  strong 
impression  that  a  performance  of  one  of  Handel's 
operas  would  be  a  surprise  to  the  critics  and  historians 

2  24  HANDEL 

who    habitually    speak    of    them    as    a    bundle    of   dry 

In  Almira  we  see  Hercules  in  his  cradle.  It  is  the 
one  opera  of  Handel's  Hamburg  period  that  fate  has 
preserved  for  us,  and  fortunately  it  appears  from  con- 
temporary accounts  that  it  was  the  best  of  all  of  them. 
Immature  as  it  unquestionably  is,  it  is  an  astonishing 
work  for  a  boy  of  nineteen  to  have  written.  As  to  the 
libretto,  the  less  said  about  it  the  better.  Almira  is  a 
comedy  of  love  and  intrigue,  in  which  three  amorous 
couples  and  a  comic  servant  plot  and  counterplot  with 
bewildering  assiduity.  A  trained  audience  might  con- 
ceivably follow  the  devious  mazes  of  the  imbroglio  with 
some  success,  but  the  thing  defies  verbal  description. 
Handel's  music  is  astonishing  in  its  life  and  vigour. 
From  the  sonorous  overture,  so  different  in  its  passionate 
impetuosity  from  Keiser's  pretty  little  preludes,  to  the 
final  ensemble  the  spirit  of  youth  seems  to  breathe  in 
every  bar  of  it.  Weaknesses  of  course  there  are.  The 
vocal  writing  is  often  awkward,  and  the  recitatives  are 
sometimes  clumsily  handled.  But  whenever  a  situation 
shows  a  spark  of  dramatic  feeling,  as  in  that  of  Fernando's 
farewell,  Handel  rises  immediately  to  the  occasion. 
Already,  too,  his  power  of  characterisation  had  begun  to 
develop.  The  passionate  Almira  is  boldly  and  brilHantly 
sketched,  and  most  of  the  characters  have  distinguishing 
traits.  In  this  point  if  in  nothing  else  Handel  was 
markedly  Keiser's  superior.  Particularly  good  in  the 
comic  servant  Tabarco,  whose  music  has  often  more  than 
a  suggestion  of  the  immortal  Papageno.  In  many  points 
the  maturer  Handel  is  interestingly  foreshadowed  in 
Almira.  The  orchestration  has  some  characteristic 
touches,   and    the   little   nature-sketches   are  in  the  true 


Handelian  manner.  The  breezes  whisper  divinely- 
through  the  Hnden  branches  in  Edilia's  first  air  "  Schonste 
Rosen,"  and  Fernando's  "  LiebHche  Walder  "  is  a  charming 
woodland  idyll.  Very  interesting,  too,  to  Handelian 
students  is  the  Sarabande — a  rough  sketch  for  the  famous 
air  which  appeared  in  //  Trionfo  del  Tempo  three  years 
later,  and  figured  again  as  the  famous  "  Lascia  ch'  io 
pianga  "  in  Rinaldo.  In  Almira  it  is  a  ballet-tune  used  to 
accompany  a  dance  of  Asiatics  in  the  last  act. 

Handel's  Florentine  opera,  Rodrigo,  has  only  come 
down  to  us  in  an  imperfect  form.  The  second  act  is 
complete,  but  the  beginning  of  the  first  and  the  end  of 
the  third  are  wanting.  Enough  of  it,  however,  remains  to 
give  us  a  good  idea  of  its  style.  It  is  very  different  in 
atmosphere  from  the  semi-farcical  entertainments  that 
were  popular  in  Hamburg.  Ferdinand  dei  Medici  found 
Scarlatti's  operas  too  serious,  but  he  must  have  thought 
that  with  Rodrigo  he  had  fallen  from  the  frying-pan  into 
the  fire.  Rodrigo  is  all  battle,  murder,  and  sudden  death. 
Roderick,  the  King  of  the  Visigoths,  is  surrounded  by 
enemies  and  traitors.  His  wife  Esilena  tries  to  buy  his 
safety  by  offering  to  yield  her  share  of  the  throne  to  her 
hated  rival  Florinda.  Esilena  and  Florinda  are  happily 
contrasted  in  the  manner  of  Elsa  and  Ortrud,  and  the 
scene  in  which  Esilena  makes  her  offer  is  very  spirited 
and  vigorous,  the  recitative  being  treated  with  a  much 
firmer  hand  than  in  Almira.  The  character  of  Esilena  is 
finely  sketched.  Her  music  has  a  warmth  and  tenderness 
which  already  shows  the  hand  of  the  master,  and  the  air 
in  which  she  vows  that  not  death  shall  part  her  from 
Rodrigo,  and  pictures  herself  wandering  with  him  by  the 
gloomy  shore  of  Acheron  is  extraordinarily  fine.  Florinda 
has  some  fine  music,  too,  though  she  flickers  out  towards 

2  26  HANDEL 

the  close  of  the  work ;  but  the  gem  of  the  opera  is 
Rodrigo's  deHcious  air  "  Dolce  amor,"  a  melody  of 
celestial  loveliness  which  reappears  in  Agrippina  and  // 
Pastor  Fido.  Handel  used  his  Almira  music  a  good  deal 
in  Rodrigo,  and  it  is  interesting  to  note  the  improvements 
resulting  from  the  experience  of  two  years'  hard  work  and 
the  study,  perhaps,  of  Italian  models. 

In  Agrippina  Handel  found  himself  in  a  totally 
different  world  from  that  of  Rodrigo.  Agrippina,  for  all 
its  high-sounding  name  and  the  exalted  personages  who 
move  through  it,  is  nothing  but  a  comedy  of  love  and 
intrigue.  The  classical  tradition  died  hard  in  Italy.  The 
old  operas  had  dealt  solely  with  Greek  mythology,  and 
though  the  librettos  of  the  eighteenth  century  had  sunk 
deep  in  triviality,  the  fashion  of  naming  the  heroes  after 
the  great  men  of  old  was  kept  up  merely  for  the  sake 
of  appearance.  Thus  in  the  world  of  opera  Xerxes  and 
Julius  Caesar  still  disported  themselves  upon  the  boards, 
even  though  the  plot  of  the  opera  that  they  figured  in 
might  be  borrowed  from  some  Spanish  comedy.  Agrippina 
has  only  the  very  slightest  connection  with  Roman  history. 
It  is  a  close-knit  tangle  of  trickery  and  scheming,  centring 
in  Agrippina's  endeavour  to  secure  the  throne  for  her  son 
Nero.  It  would  serve  no  good  purpose  to  unravel  its 
intricate  network  of  intrigue.  The  plot  is  tedious,  but  the 
characters  are  well  contrasted  and  skilfully  drawn.  The 
scheming  Agrippina  is  a  good  foil  to  the  light-hearted, 
frivolous  Poppea,  and  Claudius,  the  amorous  Emperor,  is 
happily  contrasted  with  the  loyal  Otho  and  the  effeminate 
Nero ;  while  the  picture  is  completed  by  the  two  courtiers 
Pallas  and  Narcissus,  whose  alliance  Agrippina  secures 
by  feigning  love  for  the  pair  of  then.  Handel's  hand  is 
firmer  in  Agrippina   than  in   Rodrigo.     He  sketches  his 


characters  with  a  livelier  and  more  vigorous  touch.  The 
music  was  probably  written  in  a  hurry,  and  Handel 
borrowed  largely  from  his  previous  works.  Rodrigo, 
II  Trionfo  del  Tempo,  and  even  La  Resurrezione  are 
laid  under  frequent  contribution.  When  changes  are 
made,  they  are  always  improvements,  and  almost  in- 
variably in  the  direction  of  conciseness  and  compactness. 
Note,  for  instance,  the  altered  rhythm  in  "  Ingannata  un 
sol  volta,"  an  adaptation  of  the  lovely  air  "  Dolce  amor  " 
from  Rodrigo,  and  the  pruning  of  the  superfluous  and 
meaningless  ornaments  of  "  Crede  I'uom  "  from  //  Trionfo, 
which  in  Agrippina  becomes  "  Vaghe  fonti,"  and,  most 
striking  of  all,  the  development  of  the  rather  common- 
place "  Un  leggiadro  giovinetto"  from  //  Trionfo  into  the 
famous  "  Bel  piacer."  Now  and  then  a  song  seems 
to  have  been  pitchforked  rather  unadvisedly  into  the 
opera,  mainly  perhaps  on  account  of  its  intrinsic  tuneful- 
ness. The  dainty  little  air  from  La  Resurrezione,  "  Ho  un 
non  so  che  nel  cor,"  sounds  oddly  on  the  lips  of  the 
masculine  Agrippina,  and  the  two  courtiers  seem  to  have 
been  fitted  with  songs  in  somewhat  indiscriminate  manner. 
But  the  new  music  shows  all  Handel's  genius  for  character- 
isation. Claudius's  "  Vieni,  o  cara"  is  one  of  the  most 
voluptuous  love-songs  Handel  ever  wrote,  and  "  lo  di 
Roma  il  Giove  sono"  has  just  the  right  note  of  pompous 
splendour.  Poppea's  songs  are  grace  and  delicacy  personi- 
fied. One  of  them,  "  Bel  piacer,"  appeared  again  in 
Rinaldo,  and  became  enormously  popular  in  England. 
Agrippina's  music  is  appropriately  vigorous  and  deter- 
mined. Her  great  air,  "  Pensieri,  voi  tormentate,"  is 
almost  worthy  of  one  of  the  passionate  heroines  of 
Handel's  later  dramas.  Handel  seems  to  have  had  a 
peculiar  affection  for  Agrippina,  and  he  often  used  it  in 

228  HANDEL 

his  later  works.  Pallas's  vigorous  air,  "  La  mia  sorte 
fortunata"  (itself  an  adaptation,  much  altered  and  im- 
proved, of  an  air  in  Aci,  Galatea  e  Polifemo),  cropped  up 
again  in  Jephtha  nearly  fifty  years  later,  and  the  charming 
gavotte-song  subsequently  became  famous  as  "  Heroes, 
when  with  glory  burning,"  in  Joshua.  A  special  feature 
of  Agrippina  is  the  unusual  numbers  of  songs  alia 
Siciliana  which  it  contains.  This  alone,  apart  from 
documents,  should  have  convinced  Chrysander  that  it  was 
written  after  Handel's  visit  to  Naples,  where,  according 
to  that  learned  historian,  he  first  learnt  to  appreciate  the 
beauty  of  this  particular  rhythm  ;  but  as  a  matter  of  fact, 
it  need  only  prove  that  Handel  had  made  acquaintance 
with  the  music  of  Scarlatti,  whose  operas  abound  in  so- 
called  Sicilianas,  though  their  composer  being  himself 
a  Sicilian,  and  knowing  perfectly  well  what  the  real 
characteristics  of  Sicilian  music  were,  did  not  so  term 
them.  1 

With  Agrippina  Handel's  apprenticeship  ended.  He 
had  now  learnt  all  that  Italy  could  teach  him.  His  style, 
so  far  as  opera  was  concerned,  was  formed.  Mr.  E.  J. 
Dent,  in  his  valuable  work  on  Scarlatti,  has  summed  up 
so  admirably  the  question  of  the  extent  to  which  Handel 
was  influenced  by  Italy  and  Italian  composers,  that  I 
cannot  do  better  than  quote  what  he  says  upon  the 
subject.  "  On  Handel  Scarlatti's  influence  was  strong 
at  the  beginning,  but  not  very  lasting  or  profound. 
Certainly  the  change  of  style  that  took  place  in  his 
music  after  his  visit  to  Italy  is  very  noticeable.  Rinaldo 
is  as  definitely  Italian  as  Almira  is  definitely  German  in 
its  manner.  But  although  he  began  by  modelling  his 
phrases    on    Scarlatti    after    his   visit   to    Italy,   he   very 

1  E.  J.  Dent,  Alessandro  Scarlatti^  p.  151, 


seldom  enters  thoroughly  into  Scarlatti's  style.  There 
are  several  reasons  for  this.  His  acquaintance  with 
Scarlatti  lasted  a  very  short  time,  and  his  age  made 
him  more  suited  to  the  companionship  of  Domenico, 
whose  influence  can  also  be  traced  in  much  of  his  work. 
Moreover,  Handel,  though  only  twenty-one  when  he  came 
to  Italy,  was  a  fully  fledged  composer.  He  was  not  very 
familiar  with  the  Italian  style,  but  his  Italian  Dixit 
Dominus  is  in  some  ways  stronger  than  anything  of 
Scarlatti's  in  that  line.  Handel  had  had  a  Protestant 
organist's  training,  which  taught  him  to  build  up  his 
music  on  a  strong,  harmonic  framework.  But  in  spite 
of  the  advantage  of  that  wonderful  German  faculty  for 
translating  and  assimilating  the  work  of  other  countries, 
which  accounts  for  much  of  the  greatness  of  Handel, 
Bach,  Gluck,  and  Mozart,  Handel  had  also  the  drawbacks 
of  his  nationality.  He  set  Italian,  as  he  set  English,  like 
a  foreigner,  never  approaching  that  delicate  intimacy  of 
declamation  which  is  as  characteristic  a  quality  of  Scar- 
latti as  it  is  of  Purcell.  And  it  must  be  remembered  that 
a  literary  appreciation  of  the  kind  may  take  effect  not 
only  in  impassioned  recitative,  but  also  in  the  most 
melodious  and  florid  of  arias.  Handel's  coloratura  is 
fairly  effective  in  many  cases,  but  it  is  commonplace  in 
detail.  .  .  .  Handel  seems  to  nail  his  coloratura  to  its 
framework ;  Scarlatti's  often  gains  a  priceless  charm  by 
its  wayward  independence.  Handel  often  reminds  us  of 
some  prudish  nymph  of  Rubens,  clutching  her  drapery 
tightly  about  her,  anxious  and  ungraceful ;  Scarlatti 
recalls  Tintoretto's  Venus,  her  loose  transparent  girdle 
fluttering  crisply  to  the  breeze,  serving  its  whole  purpose 
in  the  delicate  contrast  that  it  makes  with  the  pure  firm 
line  of  her  perfectly  poised  and  rounded  form.     Besides 

2  30  HANDEL 

Scarlatti,  two  other  Italian  composers  exercised  an 
equally  strong  influence  upon  Handel :  the  eclectic 
Steffani,  from  whom  Handel  learned  to  write  overtures 
and  dances  in  what  we  may  call  an  Italian  version  of 
the  style  of  LuUi ;  and  Bononcini,  who,  in  spite  of  his  bad 
reputation  among  Handel's  admirers,  seems  to  have  been 
the  real  originator  of  what  is  commonly  described  as  the 
"Handelian  style" — the  straightforward,  square-cut  march, 
which  Sullivan  parodied  so  inimitably  in  Princess  Ida. 
Bononcini  even  influenced  Scarlatti  himself,  and  it  is 
therefore  not  surprising  that  a  man  of  Handel's  tempera- 
ment should  have  seized  more  readily  on  the  salient 
mannerisms  of  Bononcini  and  Steffani  than  on  the  more 
intricate  subtleties  of  Scarlatti's  music."  ^ 

Rinaldo  is  usually  pronounced  the  finest,  as  it  certainly 
is  the  most  famous,  of  Handel's  operas.  It  is  easy  to 
understand  why  this  should  be  so.  It  had  the  great 
advantage  of  coming  first ;  it  introduced  Handel  to 
London,  and  lifted  him  at  once  to  the  position  of  the 
most  popular  composer  of  the  day.  It  struck  a  new  note 
of  splendour  and  romance.  It  rang  with  the  clash  and 
glitter  of  arms.  It  had  everything  that  could  captivate 
the  ear  and  eye  of  the  crowd — brilliant  music,  a  com- 
prehensible story,  gorgeous  scenery,  novel  stage  effects 
and  admirable  singers.  But  as  a  matter  of  fact  it  is  far 
from  being  the  best  of  Handel's  operas,  or  even  among 
the  best.  It  has  the  advantage  of  a  fine  subject,  it  is  true. 
After  the  puerile  absurdities  of  Alniira,  the  conventional 
melodrama  of  Rodrigo,  and  the  pettifogging  intrigue  of 
Agrippina  it  must  have  been  a  relief  to  Handel  to  breathe 
the  chivalric  atmosphere  of  the  Gerusalenime  Liberata ; 
and  he  contrived  to  pierce  through  the  poor  bald  diction 

^  E.  J.  Dent,  Scarlatti,  p.  199. 


of  the  librettist  to  the  wonderful  world  of  romance  that 
moved  behind — Crusaders  and  Paynim  warriors  in  shining 
array,  Armida  and  her  sorceries,  camps  and  ringing  battle- 
fields, and  all  the  pomp  and  circumstance  of  war.  But 
not  even  Handel's  genius  could  make  Rossi's  libretto  a 
good  one.  To  see  with  what  sedulous  assiduity  the  poet 
contrived  to  miss  every  opportunity  one  need  only  com- 
pare it  with  that  of  Gluck's  Armida.  By  the  side  of 
Gluck's  tremendous  heroine  Handel's  Armida  is  a  mere 
shadow,  and  it  is  a  significant  proof  of  the  poor  part  she 
plays  in  the  drama  that  when  Rinaldo  was  performed  at 
Hamburg,  the  authorities  for  once  renounced  their  almost 
invariable  custom  of  calling  the  opera  after  the  name  of 
the  heroine. 

Rossi,  for  instance,  makes  nothing  whatever  of  Armida's 
struggles  between  love  and  revenge,  nothing  of  the  voluptu- 
ous magic  with  which  the  enchantress  strove  to  win  Rinaldo 
from  his  loyalty.  Rinaldo  is  more  sympathetically  treated, 
but  he  might  have  been  made  much  more  interesting  than 
he  is.  His  constancy  to  Almirena  his  betrothed  extorts 
our  respect  for  his  virtues  as  a  private  individual,  but  it 
detracts  seriously  from  his  merits  as  an  operatic  hero. 
A  Rinaldo  who  is  not  for  a  moment  blinded  by  the 
charms  of  the  magic  gardens,  and  an  Armida  who  is 
prepared  to  sacrifice  her  position  as  the  leading  sorceress 
of  Damascus  without  a  struggle,  cannot  insinuate  them- 
selves very  far  into  our  sympathies.  Armida  is  hardly 
more  than  a  sketch  for  some  of  the  passionate  heroines 
of  Handel's  later  dramas,  and  we  shall  find  a  far  more 
interesting  Rinaldo  in  the  person  of  Ruggiero  in  Alcina. 
In  a  word,  the  psychology  of  Rinaldo  is  childish,  and 
Handel  could  make  but  little  of  it.  He  fell  back  in 
despair  upon  the  picturesque  elements  of  the  story,  and 

2  32  HANDEL 

with  them  it  is  true  that  he  did  wonders.  All  the  martial 
part  of  the  opera  is  extraordinarily  spirited,  and  fully  justi- 
fies the  high  opinion  which  most  critics  have  expressed  of 
the  work  as  a  whole.  Nor  do  the  beauties  of  Rinaldo  end 
here.  With  such  meagre  materials  as  his  librettist  afforded 
him,  Handel  contrived  to  do  a  great  deal.  The  famous 
"  Cara  sposa  "  is  a  wonderful  piece  of  musical  characterisa- 
tion, hitting  off  very  subtly  the  effeminate  side  of  Rinaldo's 
character  before  disaster  had  roused  him  to  action,  and 
"  Ah  crudel "  shows  what  Handel  might  have  made  of 
Armida  if  Rossi  had  given  him  a  chance.  Rinaldo 
suffers  a  good  deal  from  the  haste  with  which  it  was 
written.  A  good  deal  of  the  music  was  introduced  into 
the  score  from  earlier  works  in  Handel's  usual  manner, 
sometimes  with  surprisingly  brilliant,  but  at  other  times 
with  disastrous  results.  A  great  deal  of  Almirena's  music 
had  been  used  before,  but  it  fits  very  well  into  its  place, 
and  the  renowned  "  Lascia  ch'  io  pianga "  might  well 
have  been  written  for  the  situation.  Argante's  opening 
air,  on  the  other  hand,  which  was  originally  sung  by  the 
Cyclops  in  Aci,  Galatea  e  Polifemo,  though  it  makes  a 
vigorous  entry  for  the  Paynim  chief,  is  oddly  out  of  place. 
What  can  one  say  of  a  plenipotentiary  who  opens  negotia- 
tions for  a  truce  by  observing  apropos  de  bottes: — 

"  Alecto's  snakes  methinks  I  hear 
And  hungry  Scylla  barking  near." 

The  curious  thing  is  that  his  diplomacy  is  successful. 
A  good  deal  of  the  Rinaldo  music  is  taken  from  an 
Italian  cantata  on  the  subject,  written  during  Handel's 
stay  at  Rome,  and  this  naturally  enough  fits  into  its  place 
exceedingly  well.  One  of  these  passages  is  the  entrancing 
Sirens'  song,  which  sounds  as  if  it  were  an  adaptation  of 
an  Italian  folk-song,  and  makes  one  regret  that  time  and 


his  librettist  did  not  allow  Handel  to  make  more  of 
Armida's  enchantments,  which  indeed  are  passed  over 
with  hardly  a  word.  But  when  all  is  said  against  it 
that  can  be  said,  and  when  it  is  remembered  that  it  was 
written  in  a  fortnight,  Rinaldo  remains  an  astonishing 
piece  of  improvisation.  Its  freshness  and  vigour  are 
beyond  praise,  and  it  is  not  difficult  to  understand  how 
it  kept  its  place  on  the  stage  when  finer  and  subtler 
works  passed  into  oblivion. 

Of  the  other  operas  composed  by  Handel  during  his 
first  two  visits  to  England,  Teseo  and  Amadigi  are  the 
most  important.  Both  of  them  oddly  enough  are  strik- 
ingly similar  in  subject  to  Rinaldo.  In  all  three  operas 
an  important  feature  of  the  plot  is  the  rivalry  between  a 
powerful  and  malignant  sorceress  and  an  innocent  and 
trustful  maiden.  We  have  already  in  Rinaldo  made  the 
acquaintance  of  Armida  and  Almirena.  Their  counter- 
parts in  Teseo  are  Medea  and  Agilea,  and  the  plot 
practically  resolves  itself  into  a  duel  between  the  two 
women  for  the  love  of  Theseus.  The  characters  of  both 
are  more  carefully  and  elaborately  drawn  than  their 
prototypes  in  Rinaldo.  Agilea  is  far  more  of  a  human 
being  than  Almirena.  There  is  a  definite  note  of  person- 
ality running  through  her  songs,  to  which  Almirena's 
music,  hastily  raked  together  from  earlier  works  as  it 
was,  can  lay  but  little  claim.  Almirena  is  only  a  typical 
ingenue,  but  Agilea  is  a  tender  and  loving  woman  drawn 
with  the  utmost  skill  and  sympathy.  For  sheer  voluptu- 
ous beauty  one  of  her  airs,  "  Vieni,  torna,  idolo  mio,"  is 
scarcely  to  be  surpassed  in  the  whole  range  of  Handel's 
operas,  and  she  has  several  other  songs  scarcely  inferior. 
Medea  is  the  finished  portrait  for  which  Armida  was  a 
hasty  sketch.     She  is  positively  .^schylean  in  her  rugged 

2  34  HANDEL 

grandeur  and  passionate  force.  By  a  skilful  touch  she 
appears  for  the  first  time  in  a  melting  mood,  singing  a 
lovely  air  in  which  the  weary  wanderer  craves  for  peace 
and  tranquillity,  but  jealousy  soon  lashes  her  to  fury,  and 
the  rest  of  her  career  through  the  opera  is  a  wild  tempest 
of  conflicting  passions.  The  great  scene  of  the  opera  is 
Medea's  incantation,  but  her  soliloquy  in  the  third  act, 
when  she  has  resolved  upon  the  death  of  Theseus,  is 
another  marvellous  page. 

Amadigi  as  a  drama  is  inferior  to  both  Rinaldo  and 
Teseo.  The  libretto  is  clumsily  put  together,  and  gives 
comparatively  little  opportunity  for  the  delineation  of 
character.  Melissa,  the  sorceress,  is  cleverly  differentiated 
from  her  two  predecessors.  She  is  cast  in  a  tenderer 
mould,  and  is  much  more  seriously  in  love  than  either 
Medea  or  Armida.  She  is  perhaps  less  imposing  as  a 
protagonist,  and  indeed  is  rather  a  weak-kneed  sorceress 
at  best.  She  takes  her  discomfiture  like  a  suffering 
woman,  rather  than  like  an  injured  princess.  The  differ- 
ence in  character  between  Handel's  three  enchantresses 
is  neatly  exemplified  by  their  respective  ends.  Armida 
makes  the  best  of  her  defeat  and  becomes  a  convert  to 
Christianity,  Melissa  commits  suicide,  but  Medea,  still 
defiant  and  undefeated,  flies  off  in  her  dragon  chariot. 
Regarded  purely  as  music,  Amadigi  is  one  of  Handel's 
most  attractive  operas.  Not  one  in  the  long  series  is 
richer  in  beautiful  and  expressive  songs.  It  is  remarkably 
interesting,  too,  to  the  student  of  Handel's  development 
on  account  of  its  tendency  towards  a  less  conventional 
treatment  of  the  dramatic  moments  of  the  piece.  In  this 
respect  Teseo  is  an  advance  on  Rinaldo,  but  Amadigi 
shows  a  still  more  pronounced  freedom  in  structure. 
Handel  had  written  nothing  previously  that  can  be  com- 


pared  to  the  scene  in  which  the  ghost  of  Dardanus  rises 
from  the  dead  and  bids  Melissa  refrain  from  persecuting 
the  devoted  lovers.  Very  striking  too  are  the  passages 
illustrating  the  swoon  of  Amadigi  and  Melissa's  death- 
scene,  and  Amadigi's  air,  "  T'amai  quanto  il  mio  cor," 
with  its  rapid  alternations  of  adagio  and  presto,  is  a  good 
instance  of  the  increase  in  flexibility  which  experience 
gave  to  Handel's  method. 

//  Pastor  Fido  and  Silla,  though  both  contain  much 
beautiful  music,  are  not  important  to  the  study  of 
Handel's  operatic  development. 

After  Amadigi  Handel  wrote  no  operas  for  five  years. 
The  foundation  of  the  Royal  Academy  of  Music  brought 
him  back  to  the  stage  with  Radamisto,  the  first  of  the 
series  of  fourteen  operas  written  for  that  institution. 

Radamisto  is  one  of  his  finest  and  most  carefully 
written  works.  He  had  plenty  of  time,  and  was  not  driven, 
as  in  most  of  his  previous  operas,  to  use  music  already 
composed  for  other  works.  Radamisto  is,  I  think,  en- 
tirely original  save  for  one  air  adapted  from  Rodrigo, 
and,  clever  as  Handel  was  in  working  up  old  material, 
this  fact  alone  gives  it  a  decided  advantage  over  its  pre- 
decessors. The  libretto  is  one  of  the  best  Handel  ever  set. 
The  plot  is  fresh  and  interesting,  and  the  characters  are 
well  drawn.  Tiridate,  the  King  of  Armenia,  has  married 
Polissena,  the  daughter  of  Farasmane  the  King  of  Thrace, 
but  he  has  conceived  a  violent  passion  for  Zenobia,  the 
wife  of  Farasmane's  son  Radamisto,  and  in  order  to  get 
possession  of  her  he  goes  to  war  with  his  father-in-law. 
Farasmane  is  taken  prisoner,  but  Tiridate  grants  his  life 
to  the  prayers  of  Polissena.  Radamisto  and  Zenobia 
still  hold  out  against  the  tyrant,  and  the  first  act  ends 
with  an  assault  upon  their  city. 

2  36  HANDEL 

When  the  second  act  opens  the  city  has  fallen,  but 
Radamisto  and  Zenobia  escape  by  an  underground  pas- 
sage, and  come  out  beyond  the  walls,  Zenobia  is  fainting 
with  fatigue  and  can  go  no  further.  They  are  surrounded 
on  all  sides  by  the  enemy,  and  escape  is  hopeless.  Rather 
than  fall  into  the  hands  of  Tiridate,  she  implores  Rada- 
misto to  kill  her.  He  has  not  the  strength  of  mind  to  do 
so,  and  she  leaps  into  the  river  Araxes.  Before  Radamisto 
can  plunge  in  after  her,  he  is  taken  prisoner  by  a  body  of 
the  enemy's  soldiers.  Their  captain  Tigrane,  however,  is 
a  friend.  He  allows  Radamisto  to  disguise  himself  as 
a  slave,  and  so  brings  him  to  Polissena  in  safety  while 
he  takes  his  garments  to  Tiridate  as  a  proof  of  his  death. 
Radamisto  tries  to  induce  Polissena  to  help  him  to  kill 
Tiridate,  but  in  spite  of  her  wrongs  she  remains  true 
to  her  faithless  husband.  Meanwhile  Zenobia  has  been 
rescued  from  the  river  and  is  in  the  power  of  Tiridate, 
who  vainly  endeavours  to  shake  her  fidelity  to  the 
memory  of  Radamisto.  Radamisto  now  appears  in  the 
presence  of  Tiridate  in  his  disguise,  and  is  recognised  by 
Zenobia,  who  leaps  from  the  depths  of  despair  to  wild 
raptures  of  joy.  Radamisto  attempts  the  life  of  Tiridate, 
who  is  saved  by  Polissena,  and  Radamisto  is  loaded  with 
chains.  Meanwhile  Tiridate's  army  has  been  roused  to 
mutiny  by  Tigrane,  his  guards  desert  him,  and  he  is 
at  the  mercy  of  Radamisto  and  Zenobia.  But  in  an 
eighteenth  century  opera  a  happy  ending  was  de  rigueur. 
Tiridate  is  forgiven ;  he  takes  refuge  in  the  arms  of  the 
faithful  Polissena,  and  the  curtain  falls  on  general  re- 

The  opera  is  full  of  life  and  movement,  the  emotions 
of  the  characters  are  well  contrasted,  and  many  of  the 
situations    are    admirable.       Handel's    music    is    superb 


throughout.  The  first  act  rings  with  the  noise  of  battle, 
while  the  anguish  of  the  deserted  Polissena,  the  savage 
fury  of  Tiridate  and  the  noble  dignity  of  the  captured 
Farasmane  are  treated  with  incomparable  skill.  The 
second  act  opens  with  a  lovely  air  for  the  despairing 
Zenobia,  followed  by  the  famous  "  Ombra  cara,"  in  which 
Radamisto  invokes  the  shade  of  his  lost  wife.  Later  the 
music  rises  to  wonderful  heights  of  dramatic  power. 
Radamisto's  passionate  appeal  to  Polissena,  her  dis- 
tracted struggle  between  love  for  her  husband  and  affec- 
tion for  her  brother,  Zenobia's  haughty  rejection  of 
Tiridate's  insolent  proposals,  and  her  alternations  of  hope 
and  fear,  when  Radamisto  appears,  carry  the  interest  on 
without  a  break.  The  last  act  is  less  thrilling  as  a  whole, 
but  it  has  what  is  perhaps  the  greatest  thing  in  the  work, 
in  the  shape  of  a  wonderfully  developed  quartet,  which 
seems  to  have  escaped  the  notice  of  the  historians  who 
habitually  speak  of  Handel's  operas  as  a  string  of  solos. 
The  orchestration  is  throughout  unusually  rich  and  full. 
Horns  make  what  is  probably  their  first  appearance  in 
opera,  and  are  used  with  singularly  fine  effect.  If  ever 
there  should  be  a  question  of  reviving  one  of  Handel's 
operas  on  the  modern  stage,  the  claims  of  Radamisto 
would  deserve  careful  consideration. 

After  Radamisto  came  that  curious  experiment  of 
tripartite  authorship,  Muzio  Scevola.  Handel's  share  of 
the  work  contains  some  splendid  music,  but  in  one  solitary 
act  he  naturally  found  comparatively  little  scope  for  his 
genius.  His  next  opera,  Floridante,  shows  a  complete 
change  of  style.  Bononcini  had  appeared  upon  the  scene, 
and  the  success  of  his  Astarto  gave  Handel  food  for 
reflection.  Radamisto  was  obviously  far  above  the  heads 
of  the  audiences  of  that  day,  and,  besides,  the  singers 

238  HANDEL 

whom  he  then  had  at  his  command,  particularly  Anastasia 
Robinson,  were  not  equal  to  the  arduous  tasks  he  imposed 
upon  them.  The  fashionable  subscribers  of  the  Academy 
were  bewildered  by  Handel's  contrapuntal  ingenuity,  and 
they  complained  that  his  rich  harmonies  and  fertile 
orchestration  prevented  their  following  the  melodies  of  It 
the  songs. 

Bononcini's  simple  little  tunes  were  much  more  to  ; 
their  taste.  What  Handel  thought  about  them  and  their 
criticisms  we  can  easily  imagine,  but  he  took  the  hint  , 
notwithstanding.  Thus  while  Bononcini  was  straining  i 
his  slight,  small  talent  in  vain  emulation  of  the  sonorous  i 
splendour  of  his  great  rival,  Handel  consciously  took  a 
leaf  out  of  the  other's  book,  and  wrote  Floridante  to  suit 
the  uncultivated  taste  of  his  patrons.  Floridante  presents 
a  strange  contrast  to  Radamisto.  It  is  designedly  slight 
in  style ;  several  of  the  songs  are  mere  ballads,  and  the 
orchestration  is  simplicity  itself  Only  here  and  there 
does  the  lion's  claw  peep  out,  as  in  the  lovely  night-scene 
in  which  the  heroine,  like  Agathe  in  Der  Freisduitz,  listens 
for  the  footfall  of  her  absent  lover.  Ottone  and  Flavio 
followed  the  same  lines  as  Floridante.  Handel  now  had 
Cuzzoni  and  Senesino  to  write  for,  and  in  their  songs  he 
could  allow  himself  an  occasional  return  to  the  grand 
style  of  Radamisto,  as  in  the  very  expressive  "  Amor,  nel 
mio  penar"  in  Flavio,  or  in  Ottone  the  splendid  scena 
"  Tanti  affanni,"the  plaintive  "  Afifanni  del  pensier,"  and  the 
pathetic  "  Vieni,  o  figlio,"  in  which  the  divine  forgiveness 
of  a  mother's  love  is  painted  in  such  moving  colours.  But 
for  the  most  part  he  curbed  his  ambition,  and  gave  his 
subscribers  plenty  of  the  pretty  little  Bononcinesque  tunes 
that  they  could  hum  as  they  swung  home  in  their  sedan- 
chairs.     In  Giulio  Cesare  he  recanted  his  heresies,  and  re- 


turned  to  his  own  gods.  Either  he  felt  that  he  had  noth- 
ing more  to  fear  from  Bononcini,  who  had  got  into  dis- 
grace with  the  directors  of  the  Academy,  or  he  was  tired 
of  dancing  in  fetters.  At  any  rate  Giulio  Cesare  is  freer 
in  style  than  anything  he  had  yet  written.  The  libretto 
of  Giulio  Cesare  covers  very  much  the  same  period  as 
Mr.  Bernard  Shaw's  Ccesar  and  Cleopatra,  but  there  un- 
fortunately all  resemblance  between  the  two  ends. 

Giidio  Cesare  is  an  almost  inextricable  muddle  of  plots 
and  counterplots,  which  positively  defies  analysis.  But 
if  the  words  are  weak  the  music  is  superb.  Its  great 
strength  lies  in  the  accompanied  recitatives.  "  Alma  del 
gran  Pompeo,"  the  monologue  which  Caesar  pronounces 
over  the  tomb  of  his  dead  rival,  has  always  been  famous, 
but  there  are  other  pages  in  the  opera  scarcely  less  im- 
pressive, such  as  Caesar's  great  scena,  "  Dall'  ondoso 
periglio,"  in  which  recitative  and  arioso  alternate  in  a 
manner  no  other  composer  of  the  time  had  dared  to 
attempt.  Very  striking  too  is  the  note  of  romance  that  is 
struck  in  certain  scenes,  particularly  in  that  of  the  vision 
of  Parnassus  with  which  Cleopatra  attempts  to  beguile  the 
amorous  Caesar.  The  music  here  is  scored  for  harps,  viola 
da  gamba  and  theorbo,  besides  the  usual  strings  and  wind, 
disposed  in  two  antiphonal  orchestras.  In  other  scenes 
four  horns  are  used  with  surprising  effect,  probably  for 
the  first  time  in  the  history  of  opera,  and  doubtless  with 
the  intention  of  suggesting  the  barbaric  character  of 
Ptolemy's  Egyptian  cohorts.  But  the  opera  is  full  of 
interesting  details  of  orchestration,  and  deserves  careful 

Tamerlano,  in  which  the  tenor  Borosini  made  his 
first  London  appearance,  is  scarcely  inferior.  The 
principal    characters   are   finely  drawn  and    sharply  con- 

240  HANDEL 

trasted — Tamerlane  the  insolent  conqueror;  Bajazet  the 
defeated  emperor,  old,  weak,  and  loaded  with  chains,  but 
with  spirit  still  unsubdued  ;  and  Asteria,  fit  daughter  of 
such  a  sire.  The  opera  abounds  in  scenes  of  keenly- 
wrought  dramatic  fibre.  There  is  a  masterly  trio  in  which 
conflicting  passions  clash  in  wondrous  harmony,  and  the 
death  of  Bajazet  is  a  passage  of  astonishing  power,  worthy 
of  Gluck  in  his  loftiest  moments.  The  old  man  has  drunk 
poison  rather  than  witness  his  conqueror's  triumph  and 
his  daughter's  disgrace.  Asteria  clings  about  his  neck, 
praying  him  to  let  her  die  with  him.  In  broken  accents 
he  bids  her  farewell,  and  with  his  last  breath  hurls  curses 
at  Tamerlane,  and  bids  him  tremble  at  the  terrors  of  a 
ghostly  vengeance.  The  scene  is  wrought  to  a  climax  of 
astonishing  power.  Handel,  who  in  his  heart  of  hearts 
hated  castrati,  seems  to  have  revelled  in  having  at  last  a 
first-rate  tenor  at  his  command,  and  he  wrote  music  for 
Borosini  which  it  would  have  been  idle  to  have  put  in  the 
mouth  of  the  effeminate  Senesino.  Tamerlano  affords  an 
instance  of  Handel's  employment  of  the  clarinet,  which 
had  been  invented  by  Denner  of  Nuremberg  about  thirty 
years  before.  In  the  autograph  the  pastoral  air,  "  Par  che 
mi  nasca,"  is  accompanied  by  two  cornetti,  but  in  one  of 
Smith's  copies  the  cornetti  are  replaced  by  "  clar.  et  clarin. 
1°  et  2°."  Possibly  some  German  musicians  may  have 
brought  over  specimens  of  the  new  instrument,  and 
Handel,  always  ready  for  new  experiments  in  orchestra- 
tion, gave  them  a  trial.  He  also  wrote,  probably  for  the 
same  performers,  a  concerto  for  two  clarinets  and  co7'no  di 
caccia,  the  concertino  parts  of  which  are  in  the  Fitzwilliam 
Museum  at  Cambridge.  This  work  has  never  been 

Rodelinda  is  cast  in  a  gentler  mould.     It  deals  largely 


with  the  woes  of  the  deserted  Rodelinda,  wife  of  Bertarido, 
King  of  the  Lombards,  who  believes  her  husband  to  have 
been  slain  in  battle,  and  is  hard  put  to  it  to  repel  the 
attentions  of  his  successor.  The  opera  opens  very  strik- 
ingly with  the  return  of  Bertarido,  who  finds  himself  con- 
fronted by  his  own  tomb.  His  soliloquy,  "  Pompe  vane 
di  morte,"  is  one  of  Handel's  noblest  accompanied  recita- 
tives, and  it  leads  into  the  still  finer  air,  "Dove  sei,"  ^  in 
which  Bertarido  invokes  the  wife  whom  he  believes  to  be 
lost  to  him  for  ever.  Later  in  the  opera  occurs  a  wonder- 
ful dungeon  scene,  which  has  more  than  a  suggestion 
of  Fidelio,  while  if  the  passion  of  the  imprisoned  Florestan 
may  be  compared  to  that  of  Bertarido,  Pizarro's  famous 
song  may  no  less  fairly  be  quoted  as  a  counterpart  to 
"  Fatto  inferno,"  the  tremendous  scena  in  which  Grimoaldo 
pours  forth  his  soul  in  tempest. 

Scipio  and  Alessandro  are  distinctly  on  a  lower  level. 
Scipio  lives  principally  in  the  renown  of  its  famous  march, 
which  is  said  to  have  been  written  originally  for  the 
Grenadier  Guards  and  afterwards  to  have  been  incorpor- 
ated into  the  opera. 

In    Alessandro   Faustina   made   her   debut,   and    the 

^  The  pious  folk  of  the  generation  that  followed  Handel  amused  them- 
selves with  turning  his  operatic  airs  into  sacred  songs.  "Dove  sei  "was 
one  that  fell  into  their  clutches  and  came  out  as  "  Holy,  holy,  Lord  God 
Almighty,"  in  which  version  it  is  now  probably  better  known  than  in  its 
original  form.  Sometimes  this  peculiar  method  of  paying  a  posthumous 
compliment  to  a  popular  composer  worked  rather  neatly.  As  FitzGerald 
pointed  out,  "Nasce  al  bosco"  bore  its  conversion  into  "He  layeth  the 
beams  of  His  chambers  in  the  waters  "  rather  well,  the  passage  about  the 
shepherd  sailing  along  on  fortune's  favouring  gale  fitting  in  happily  enough  to 
the  words  "  and  walketh  on  the  wings  of  the  wind."  But  "Dove  sei"  loses 
all  its  point  by  being  canonised.  The  tortured  passion,  wild  with  all  regret, 
of  the  original  is  completely  smothered  under  the  black  coat  and  white  tie  of 
its  Pecksniffian  caricature. 

242  HANDEL 

dramatic  interest  of  the  work  is  largely  sacrificed  to  the 
necessity  of  keeping  the  balance  even  between  her  and 
Cuzzoni.  In  Rodelinda  and  Scipio  there  are  important 
tenor  parts,  but  English  amateurs  just  then  would  listen 
to  nobody  but  the  two  prima  donnas  and  their  favourite 
castrati,  so  Handel  had  to  bow  to  public  opinion.  There 
is  an  unimportant  tenor  part  in  Alessandro,  but  the  rest 
of  his  Academy  operas  are  written  only  for  sopranos  and 
contraltos,  save  for  the  thundering  Boschi,  whose  popularity 
seems  to  have  defied  the  dictates  of  fashion. 

With  Admeto  we  are  once  more  in  the  presence  of  a 
masterpiece.  The  libretto  is  founded  upon  the  world- 
renowned  legend  of  Alcestis,  which  is  treated  with  some 
skill,  though  the  inevitable  underplot  is  rather  tiresome. 
Handel  rose  magnificently  to  the  occasion,  and  his  music 
is  fully  worthy  of  the  noble  story.  Alcestis  is  one  of  his 
finest  creations,  and  the  sublime  passion  of  her  self-sacrifice 
is  well  contrasted  with  the  light-hearted  frivolity  of 
Antigona,  a  youthful  shepherdess,  with  whom  Admetus 
consoles  himself  directly  Alcestis  has  disappeared  from 
the  scene.  Hercules  is  a  splendid  figure,  and  the  selfish 
amorist  Admetus  is  very  happily  drawn.  The  super- 
natural part  of  the  opera  is  exceedingly  impressive.  The 
overture  to  the  second  act,  which  describes  the  gloomy 
horrors  of  the  infernal  regions,  is  a  wonderful  piece  of 
tone-painting ;  and  the  opening  scene,  in  which  the  dying 
Admetus  is  tormented  by  the  Furies  who  gather  round 
his  couch,  is  no  less  striking  than  the  corresponding  scene 
in  Gluck's  IpJiigeriia  m  Taiiris. 

No  more  unfounded  charge  was  ever  laid  at  Handel's 
door  than  that  his  operas  are  all  alike.  On  the  contrary, 
no  one  ever  appreciated  more  fully  the  value  of  contrast. 
Riccardo   is   as   different   from    Admeto   as    possible.     It 


rings  with  the  noise  of  battle  ;  it  is  all  martial  ardour  and 
patriotism.  Dramatically  it  is  not  specially  interesting, 
but  it  is  full  of  interesting  points,  particularly  as  regards 
the  orchestration.  The  elaborate  storm-scene  with  which 
it  opens  is  a  very  remarkable  piece  of  writing  for  the  time, 
and  throughout  the  work  there  are  signs  of  curious  re- 
search in  the  choice  of  instruments.  Some  of  the  war- 
like songs  have  very  spirited  and  effective  parts  for  horns 
and  trumpets.  In  a  lovely  arioso  in  which  a  despairing 
lover  prays  for  death  there  is  an  obbligato  for  the  bass 
flute,  a  "  bird-song "  sung  by  Cuzzoni  has  an  elaborate 
and  graceful  part  for  a  piccolo,  and  the  charming  pastoral 
air,  "  Quando  non  vede  la  cara  madre,"  is  quaintly  accom- 
panied by  two  "chalumeaux,"  a  primitive  species  of 
clarinet.  Siroe  is  on  the  whole  rather  disappointing,  and 
gives  the  impression  of  having  been  written  in  haste. 
The  Persian  background  tempted  Handel  to  no  experi- 
ments in  orchestral  colour,  such  as  he  had  recently  at- 
tempted, but  there  are  some  splendid  songs  in  the  opera. 
"  Gelido  in  ogni  vena "  is  a  thrilling  picture  of  guilty 
terror,  and  the  monologue  of  the  imprisoned  Siroe  is  at 
least  as  fine  as  the  corresponding  scene  in  Rodelinda. 

Tolonieo^  the  last  opera  written  by  Handel  for  the 
Royal  Academy,  bears,  no  less  plainly  than  Siroe,  traces 
of  the  untoward  circumstances  in  which  it  was  composed. 
Yet  it  contains  many  charming  songs,  such  as  the  lovely 
"  Fonte  amiche,"  through  which  the  breezes  sigh  and  the 
waters  murmur  in  such  adorable  concert,  and  the  famous 
Echo  song,  "  Dite  che  fa,"  in  which  Cuzzoni  and  Senesino 
scored  a  notable  success.  The  great  dramatic  moment 
of  the  piece  is  the  scene  in  which  Tolomeo  drinks  what 
he  believes  to  be  poison,  and  sinks  gradually  into  a 
lethargic    slumber.      This    scene   is   in    Handel's    finest 

244  HANDEL 

manner.  It  opens  with  a  noble  recitative,  and  the  air 
that  follows,  "  Stille  amare,"  is  one  of  the  most  expressive 
he  ever  wrote.  The  ebbing  tide  of  life  is  pictured  with 
marvellous  skill  and  beauty,  and  the  use  of  a  tremolando 
effect  in  the  violins  gives  a  curious  touch  of  realism  to  the 

The  collapse  of  the  Royal  Academy  and  Handel's 
start  in  management  upon  his  own  account  opened  a  new 
period  in  the  development  of  his  operatic  style.  It  is  not 
easy  to  say  how  far  the  fact  that  he  had  a  different 
company  of  singers  to  compose  for  gave  a  fresh  bent  to 
his  genius,  or  how  far  the  company  was  chosen  to  suit 
the  new  style  which  he  now  adopted,  but  at  any  rate  the 
difference  in  manner  between  the  old  Academy  operas 
and  those  that  he  now  produced  is  strikingly  marked. 
Lotario,  the  first  opera  produced  under  the  new  regime,  is 
not  specially  significant,  but  in  Partenope  the  change  of 
style  is  unmistakable. 

Handel's  recent  tour  in  Italy  had  introduced  him  to 
many  of  the  rising  stars  in  the  world  of  opera,  such  as 
Vinci  and  Hasse,  and  in  Pai'tenope  their  influence  upon 
him  can  easily  be  traced  in  many  of  the  airs.  In  general 
structure,  too,  Parte?iope  is  curiously  different  from  its 
predecessors.  The  big  ah's  de  parade,  which  are  so 
prominent  a  feature  of  Handel's  earlier  operas  when  he 
was  still  mainly  under  the  influence  of  Scarlatti,  have  to  a 
great  extent  disappeared.  In  their  place  we  find  briefer 
and  more  dramatic  movement  of  the  arioso  type,  and 
variety  is  given  to  the  action  by  frequent  concerted  pieces. 
Partenope  boasts  a  trio  and  a  quartet,  and  no  fewer  than 
four  choruses,  and  there  are  numerous  symphonic  move- 
ments which  form  a  welcome  relief  to  the  purely  vocal 


Neither  Lotario  nor  Partenope  is  particularly  interest- 
ing as  a  drama,  but  both  are  crisp  and  vigorous  in  move- 
ment, and  contain  some  capital  characterisation.  Lotario 
is  a  warlike  story  with  the  usual  allowance  of  haughty 
tyrants  and  imprisoned  damsels.  The  martial  music  is 
all  very  spirited  and  vigorous,  but  the  best  characters  in 
the  work  are  the  hopeless  lover  Idelberto,  who  has  some 
charming  sentimental  ditties,  including  the  famous  "  Per 
salvarti,"  and  his  very  bloodthirsty  mother  Matilde,  a 
lady  of  truly  Spartan  fortitude,  who  ^oes  through  life 
with  a  drawn  sword  in  her  hand,  ready  to  kill  anything 
and  anybody  on  the  smallest  provocation. 

Partenope  is  lighter  in  character.     It  has  of  course  a 
certain   amount   of  fighting — few    Handelian  operas  are 
altogether  peaceable — but  it  is  chiefly  concerned  with  the 
quarrels  and  intrigues  of  three  suitors  for   the   hand  of 
Partenope,  the  young  Queen  of  Naples,  and  the  efforts 
of  Rosmira,  a  princess  whom  Arsace  has  thrown  over  for 
the   sake  of  Partenope,  to  regain    the  affections    of  her 
faithless   lover.     Rosmira   is   a  very  high-spirited  young 
lady,  and,  not   content  with   disguising   herself  in  male 
attire,  goes  so  far  as  to  challenge  Arsace  to  mortal  combat. 
The  jealous  fury  of  Rosmira  is  well  contrasted  with  the 
light-hearted  gaiety  of  Partenope,  one  of  whose  songs  is 
the  well-known  "  Qual  farfalletta  "  ;  but  the  best  songs  fall 
to  the  share  of  Arsace,  who  is  a  distinctly  variable  person, 
and  ranges  between  transports  of  rage,  as  in  "  Furibondo 
spira  il  vento,"  and  depths  of  woe,  as  in  the  lovely  "  Ch'io 
parta,"   and    the  still  more  beautiful  slumber-song,  "  Ma 
quai    note,"   accompanied    by   flutes,    muted    strings  and 

Poro    follows     much    the    same    lines     as    Partenope, 
though   the   reappearance  of  Senesino  in    the   company 

246  HANDEL 

tempted  Handel  to  return  to  some  extent  to  the  richer 
and  more  grandiose  manner  of  his  Academy  days,  at  any 
rate  in  the  songs  allotted  to  the  great  castrato.  Poro  is  in 
one  respect  somewhat  disappointing,  as  there  is  little 
attempt  in  the  orchestra  at  suggesting  the  Oriental  colour 
of  the  background,  though  Handel  had  already  made 
interesting  experiments  of  this  kind  in  his  earlier  works. 
In  other  respects  Poro  is  fully  up  to  the  average  Handelian 
standard.  Many  of  the  airs  are  intrinsically  delightful,  such 
as  the  pretty  pastoral,  "  Son  confusa  pastorella,"  and  the 
great  dramatic  moments  of  the  piece  are  treated  superbly. 
The  death-song  of  the  Indian  queen  is  wonderfully 
beautiful,  and  the  fact  that  it  is  written  upon  a  ground- 
bass  makes  one  wonder  if  Handel  can  possibly  have 
made  the  acquaintance  of  Purcell's  Dido  and  Apneas. 
One  of  the  most  striking  and  original  things  in  Poro  is  an 
ironical  duet  between  two  jealous  lovers,  who  in  bitterness 
of  heart  quote  passages  from  the  love-songs  that  each 
has  sung  to  the  other  earlier  in  the  opera. 

Eaio  presents  no  very  special  claim  to  the  attention 
of  modern  students.  The  plot  is  one  of  those  inter- 
minable palace  intrigues,  in  which  every  one  seems  to 
be  conspiring  against  every  one  else  at  the  same  time 
in  the  most  bewildering  fashion.  The  music  is  no  better 
and  no  worse  than  that  of  many  other  Handelian  operas, 
but  it  is  worth  noting  that  the  three  bass  songs,  "  Se 
un  beir  ardire"  (better  known  in  England  as  "Droop 
not,  young  lover"),  "  Nasce  al  bosco,"  and  "  Gia  risuonar 
d'intorno,"  are  still  favourites  with  our  latter-day  singers. 
They  were  written  for  Montagnana,  who  made  his  first  ap- 
pearance under  Handel's  banner  in  Ezio.  Montagnana 
was  a  singer  of  uncommon  accomplishment,  who  seems, 
to  judge   from   the  music   that    Handel  wrote   for    him, 


to  have  had  an  unusual  accuracy  of  intonation  in 
hitting  distant  intervals. 

Sosarme  is  another  of  Handel's  less  important  operas. 
The  libretto  deals  in  the  received  eighteenth-century  manner 
with  a  number  of  amiable  and  abnormally  credulous  people, 
who  are  set  at  loggerheads  by  the  purposeless  malignity 
of  a  particularly  double-dyed  scoundrel.  There  are  no 
dramatic  situations  worthy  of  the  name,  but  Handel, 
as  usual,  contrived  to  make  the  most  of  every  scene  that 
had  a  spark  of  human  emotion  in  it.  There  is  a  very  fine 
aria  paiiante,  "  Cuor  di  madre,"  for  a  mother  distracted 
by  the  emotions  caused  by  the  conflict  of  her  husband 
and  her  son  ;  and  the  villain  of  the  piece  has  a  wonderful 
song,  "  Fra  I'ombre,"  which  seems  to  be  enveloped  in  a 
weird  atmosphere  of  guilt  and  horror.  Still  familiar  to 
modern  ears  is  the  tranquil  loveliness  of  "  Rendi  il  sereno 
al  ciglio,"  in  which  a  devoted  daughter  soothes  a  mother's 
anguish,  even  as  Manrico  calms  the  raving  Azucena  in 
//  Trovatore. 

Orlando  is  in  every  respect  a  finer  work  than  its 
immediate  predecessors.  After  the  arid  intrigues  of  Ezio 
and  Sosarme,  Handel  must  have  been  enraptured  to  find 
himself  once  more  in  the  wonder-world  of  romance 
painted  by  the  Italian  poets  of  the  Renaissance.  He 
rose  to  his  subject  in  characteristic  style.  Orlando  is  not, 
perhaps,  particularly  strong  as  regards  plot,  but  there 
is  a  romantic  charm  about  the  story  which  fully  atones 
for  occasional  weaknesses  of  structure.  The  savage 
figure  of  Orlando,  whose  hopeless  passion  for  Angelica 
has  turned  his  brain,  stands  out  in  striking  relief  against 
the  graceful  background  of  the  shepherd  life  into  which 
he  bursts  like  a  whirlwind.  Very  imposing,  too,  is  the 
figure  of  Zoroaster,  the  magician  who  eventually  restores 

248  HANDEL 

Orlando  to  sanity.  The  opening  scene,  in  which  Zoroaster, 
posted  on  a  lonely  mountain  summit,  invokes  the  aid  of 
the  silent  stars,  strikes  a  note  of  wild  grandeur  that 
echoes  throughout  the  work.  But  the  great  moment  of 
the  piece  is  Orlando's  mad  scene,  a  passage  of  such 
concentrated  force  of  imagination  and  such  extraordinary 
inventive  skill  that  by  its  side  all  the  operatic  frenzies 
of  our  modern  Elviras  and  Lucias  seem  the  most  pitiful 
buffoonery.  The  details  of  the  scene  are  worth  careful 
study.  The  use  of  |  time  is  probably  unprecedented 
in  the  history  of  music,  and  the  contrast  between  the 
solemn  passage  on  a  ground-bass  and  the  wild  ravings 
of  the  peroration  is  extraordinarily  fine.  Writing  half 
a  century  later,  Burney  still  viewed  the  audacious  in- 
novations of  this  scene  with  grave  suspicion.  What  the 
audiences  of  Handel's  time  thought  of  it,  and  of  the 
opera  as  a  whole,  may  be  gathered  from  the  fact  that  the 
production  of  Orlando  was  the  signal  for  the  foundation 
of  the  rival  enterprise  at  Lincoln's  Inn  Fields,  and  that 
Senesino,  who  had  certainly  never  in  his  career  had  music 
of  such  power  and  originality  put  unto  his  mouth,  at 
once  severed  his  connection  with  Handel,  and  went  over 
to  the  enemy. 

But  the  mad  scene  by  no  means  monopolises  the 
interest  of  Orlando.  The  opera  is  full  of  fine  things. 
The  scene  in  which  Orlando,  exhausted  by  his  frenzy, 
sinks  to  sleep  to  the  accompaniment  of  two  violette  marine 
— probably  a  kind  of  viola  d'amore — is  another  masterly 
page.  Zoroaster's  three  airs,  "  Lascia  amor,"  "  Tra  caligini 
profonde,"  and  "  Sorge  infausta  una  procella,"  are  all 
magnificent,  and,  to  our  credit  be  it  said,  are  still  occasion- 
ally to  be  heard  in  our  concert-rooms.  The  much-tried 
Angelica,  when  not  being  chased  by  her  mad  lover,  has 


some  exquisite  songs,  Handel  never  surpassed  the  wood- 
land magic  of  "Verdi  piante,"  through  which  the  voice 
of  the  forest  murmurs  in  such  divinely  soothing  harmony, 
and  he  gave  the  shepherd  lovers  some  of  the  most 
delicious  pastoral  music  he  ever  wrote. 

Ariadne,  though  one  of  the  most  popular  of  Handel's 
operas  with  contemporary  audiences,  is  far  from  being 
among  his  best  works.  It  may  be  regarded  as  in  some 
sort  an  apology  for  Orlando.  In  those  days  the  English 
public  was  just  as  impervious  to  new  impressions  as  it 
is  nowadays — it  never  could  have  been  more  so — and 
there  can  be  little  doubt  that  the  freshness  and  originality 
of  Orlando  repelled  the  average  opera-goer  as  surely  as 
any  attempt  to  enlarge  the  boundaries  of  music  repels 
our  apathetic  public  to-day.  Ariadne  was  a  concession  to 
the  conservatives.  Handel,  too,  was  doubtless  anxious 
that  his  new  primo  noma,  Carestini,  who  made  his  debut 
in  Ariadne,  should  win  the  suffrages  of  his  patrons,  and 
he  gave  him  an  unusually  large  number  of  commonplace 
showy  songs,  by  the  aid  of  which  he  found  no  difficulty 
in  singing  himself  into  general  favour.  Nevertheless 
Ariadne  has  its  fine  moments.  The  scene  of  Theseus's 
dream  is  effectively  handled,  and  his  combat  with  the 
Minotaur  is  very  spirited. 

The  most  famous  thing  in  the  work,  however,  is  the 
minuet  which  is  played  at  the  opening  of  the  first  act, 
while  Theseus  is  disembarking  from  his  galley  with  the 
bevy  of  Athenian  youths  and  maidens  destined  for  the 
jaws  of  the  Minotaur.  This  piece  enjoyed  enormous 
popularity  throughout  the  eighteenth  century.  Its  fate 
foreshadowed  that  of  the  Cavalleria  intermezzo  in  our 
own  day.  It  was  transcribed  for  the  harpsichord,  arranged 
for   the   violin,    and    even    metamorphosed    into   a   song. 

2  50  HANDEL 

Long  after  Handel's  death  it  retained  its  vogue.  The 
cultivated  reader  will  not  need  to  be  reminded  that  in 
She  Stoops  to  Conquer  the  performing  bear,  which  "  danced 
only  to  the  genteelest  of  tunes,"  manifested  a  special 
predilection  for  its  ravishing  strains,  and  that  so  late 
as  1 78 1  the  fair  Tilburin^  in  Sheridan's  Critic  trod  the 
ramparts  of  Tilbury  "  inconsolable  to  the  minuet  in 
Ariadne  y 

Handel's  move  to  Covent  Garden  marks  the  opening 
of  what  may  be  called  his  third  operatic  period.  At  this 
epoch  in  his  career  he  was  hard  put  to  it  by  the  competi- 
tion of  the  "  Opera  of  the  Nobility "  in  the  Haymarket, 
and  he  left  no  stone  unturned  in  the  struggle  to  defeat 
his  rivals.  The  distinguishing  feature  of  his  Covent 
Garden  operas — the  earlier  ones,  at  any  rate — is  the 
increased  importance  assigned  to  the  chorus  and  the 
introduction  of  dancing,  which  had  figured  but  rarely  in 
his  previous  operas. 

Ariodante,  the  first  of  the  Covent  Garden  operas,  is 
particularly  rich  in  dance  music,  each  act  terminating 
with  an  elaborate  ballet,  of  which  Mile.  Salle,  the  French 
dancer,  was  the  bright,  particular  star.  In  Ariodante 
Handel  turned  once  more  to  his  favourite  Tasso,  and 
produced  a  work  which  in  grace  and  romantic  charm 
yields  to  few  of  his  operas.  The  plot  is  closely  akin  to 
that  of  Much  Ado  about  Nothing.  Polinesso,  the  villainous 
Duke  of  Albany,  has  been  refused  by  Ginevra,  the 
daughter  of  the  King  of  Scotland,  who  loves  Ariodante. 
In  revenge  he  persuades  Ginevra's  confidante  Dalinda 
to  disguise  herself  in  Ginevra's  garments  and  to  open 
a  private  door  in  the  palace  to  him  one  night  when 
Ariodante  is  wandering  in  the  garden  beneath  his 
mistress's  window.     The  plot  succeeds.     Ariodante,  who 


has  been  a  witness  of  what  he  believes  to  be  Ginevra's 
perfidy,  will  have  nothing  more  to  say  to  her,  Polinesso, 
however,  overreaches  himself.  To  close  Dalinda's  mouth, 
he  plots  to  have  her  murdered.  Ariodante  saves  her 
life,  and  in  remorse  she  confesses  her  share  of  the  plot 
against  his  happiness.  The  music,  though  not  in 
Handel's  grandest  and  most  dramatic  vein,  is  full  of 
charming  little  vignettes,  such  as  the  garden  scene  in 
the  first  act,  in  which  Ariodante  breathes  his  passion 
in  strains  of  the  most  voluptuous  tenderness,  and  the 
wonderful  orchestral  picture  of  the  rising  moon  at  the 
opening  of  the  second  act.  The  dances  are  delightfully 
gay  and  sparkling,  and  the  little  pastoral  symphony  is 
a  gem  of  the  first  water. 

Alcina  is  another  and  even  more  successful  experi- 
ment in  the  same  style.  The  libretto,  which  is  taken 
from  Ariosto,  has  a  good  deal  in  common  with  those  of 
Rinaldo  and  Aniadigi.  Ruggiero,  a  Christian  knight, 
has  fallen  into  the  amorous  clutches  of  Alcina,  a  Circe- 
like sorceress,  who  has  so  bewildered  his  mind  with  her 
spells  that  when  Bradamante,  his  plighted  bride,  appears 
on  the  scene  to  rescue  him  he  shows  a  pronounced 
disinclination  to  leave  his  voluptuous  bondage.  He  is 
brought  to  his  senses  by  means  of  a  magic  ring,  and  he 
and  Bradamante  make  their  escape  after  breaking  the 
urn  on  which  Alcina's  power  depends,  and  reducing  her 
palace  and  enchanted  gardens  to  a  dreary  wilderness. 
Alcina  has  not  perhaps  the  dramatic  force  of  some  of 
Handel's  earlier  works,  but  for  sheer  musical  beauty  it 
is  without  a  rival,  and  the  character-drawing  is  often 
curiously  subtle.  The  opening  scene  in  Alcina's  palace, 
with  its  alternation  of  chorus  and  dance,  is  one  of  capti- 
vating loveliness,  often    foreshadowing  very  interestingly 

252  HANDEL 

the  style  of  Gluck,  who  may  well  have  known  Alcina  and 
borne  it  in  mind  when  he  wrote  his  Armida.  Alcina  is 
one  of  Handel's  most  carefully  studied  characters.  When 
she  discovers  Ruggiero's  faithlessness  she  has  a  wonderful 
song,  "  Ah,  mio  cor,"  similar  in  feeling  to  Armida's  *'  Ah, 
crudel "  in  Rinaldo,  and  to  Melissa's  "  Ah,  spietato "  in 
Aniadigi,  in  which  she  struggles  with  the  conflicting 
emotions  of  grief  and  anger.  To  this  succeeds  a  very 
striking  incantation  scene,  in  which  she  summons  her 
minion  spirits  to  assist  her.  Later  her  mood  changes, 
and  a  lovely  air,  "  Mi  restano  le  lagrime,"  paints  the 
anguish  of  her  wounded  heart  in  the  most  moving  colours. 
Ruggiero  is  finely  drawn  also.  His  air,  "  Verdi  prati," 
is  well  known  in  concert  rooms,  but  apart  from  its  context 
it  loses  all  its  psychological  force.  It  is  the  knight's 
farewell  to  the  enchanted  splendour  of  Alcina's  garden, 
and  Handel,  with  his  unrivalled  knowledge  of  the  human 
heart,  has  contrived  to  suggest  a  touch  of  that  regret, 
which,  so  long  as  men  are  what  they  are,  can  hardly  fail 
to  make  itself  felt  at  such  a  time.  Those  who  measure 
the  works  of  earlier  days  by  the  suggestion  of  modernity 
that  they  exhibit,  should  compare  Handel's  treatment 
of  the  scene  with  Goethe's  poem  Rinaldo,  in  which  the 
same  idea  is  elaborated  with  truly  Goethesque  subtlety. 

Atalanta  was  a  piece  d' occasion,  written  in  honour  of 
the  marriage  of  the  Prince  of  Wales.  It  is  appropriately 
brilliant  and  festive  in  character,  and  makes  no  pretence 
to  dramatic  interest,  but  it  is  nevertheless  one  of  Handel's 
most  charming  operas,  with  its  choruses  of  nymphs  and 
shepherds,  and  its  indescribable  atmosphere  of  light- 
hearted  gaiety  and  out-of-door  freshness.  Handel's 
later  operas  are  hardly  upon  the  same  level  as  their 
predecessors.      Ill-health   and    money  troubles    weighed 


heavily  upon  his  spirits,  and  left  their  mark  upon  his 
music.  Yet,  though  weak  places  occur  in  his  last  half- 
dozen  operas,  there  is  not  one  of  them  that  does  not 
contain  beauties  of  a  high  order.  In  Giustino  there  is 
the  romantic  apparition  of  Fortune  and  a  delightful 
sailors'  chorus,  which  may  possibly  have  been  the  model 
for  Mozart's  "  Placido  e  il  mar"  in  Idomeneo.  Arminio 
is  a  return  to  the  old  heroic  manner,  and  many  of  the 
scenes  are  poignantly  dramatic.  Arminio's  great  recita- 
tive, "  Fier  teatro  di  morte,"  and  the  noble  air,  "  Vado  a 
morir,"  are  as  fine  as  anything  in  Radamisto,  but  for  the 
most  part  Handel  seems  at  this  time  to  have  preferred 
h'ghter  subjects.  Berenice  and  Farainondo  cannot  be 
ranked  high  among  the  operas,  though  the  minuet  in 
the  former  is  one  of  Handel's  immortal  tunes,  and  the 
latter  has  a  very  curious  and  successful  experiment  in 
realism  in  the  song,  "  Voglio  che  sia,"  in  which  the  hero, 
halting  between  two  opinions,  breaks  off  suddenly  in 
the  midst  of  his  meditations,  while  the  orchestra  expresses 
his  uncertainty  in  a  passage  of  striking  originality,  which 
Handel  a  few  years  later  worked  up  into  a  fine  air  in 
Hercules,  dealing  with  a  somewhat  similar  psychological 

Serse  is  Handel's  one  excursion  into  comic  opera. 
It  is  a  bustling  little  work,  possibly  founded  upon  a 
Spanish  comedy  of  intrigue,  in  which  only  the  names 
of  the  characters  have  anything  to  do  with  the  classical 
world.  Serse  is  now  known  chiefly  as  containing  the 
beautiful  air,  "  Ombra  mai  fu,"  which  in  its  modern 
orchestral  arrangement  as  "the  celebrated  Largo"  is 
perhaps  more  popular  than  anything  Handel  ever  wrote, 
but  some  of  the  lighter  music  is  capital  of  its  kind. 
There    is   a   charming    little   song   sung   by  the    inevit- 

254  HANDEL 

able  comic  servant  disguised  as  a  flower-seller,  which 
seems  to  be  founded  upon  the  street  cries  of  the  period. 
It  is  worth  remarking  that  Handel  is  known  to  have 
taken  a  great  interest  in  street  cries.  Lady  Luxborough 
wrote  to  Shenstone  the  poet :  "  The  great  Handel  has 
told  me  that  the  hints  of  his  very  best  songs  have  several 
of  them  been  owing  to  the  sounds  in  his  ears  of  cries  in 
the  streets."  ^  An  autograph  note  of  his  hastily  jotted  down 
on  a  loose  sheet  of  paper  together  with  the  addresses  of 
friends  and  other  memoranda  has  preserved  to  us  the  cry 
of  an  itinerant  match-seller  : — 

^4     I        h- 

W — =?2: 

Buoy     a     -     ny  match  -  es,  my  match  -  es       buoy. 

At  the  top  of  the  page  is  written :  "  John  Shaw,  near 
a  brandy  shop,  St.  Giles's  in  the  Tyburn  Road,  sells 
matches  about."  This  interesting  fragment  is  now  in 
the  Fitzwilliam  Museum  at  Cambridge. 

In  Imetteo  there  is  little  to  detain  us,  but  Deidamia, 
Handel's  last  opera,  contains  some  beautiful  music.  It 
is  peculiar  in  having  two  important  bass  parts,  to  which 
many  of  the  finest  songs  are  assigned.  The  beautiful 
"  Nel  riposo "  is  one  of  those  airs,  like  "  Tears,  such  as 
tender  fathers  shed,"  in  Deborah,  and  "  How  willing  my 
paternal  love,"  in  Samson,  in  which  Handel  paints  a 
picture  of  ripe  and  tender  old  age  that  no  changes 
of  time  and  fashion  can  cause  to  fade.  In  a  very 
different  vein  is  the  bright  and  spirited  hunting 
chorus,  but  Deidaniia  is  full  of  good  things,  and  had 
it  appeared  at  a  more  favourable  time  and  with  a 
^  Luxborough  Correspondence,  1775,  P-  S^' 


stronger  cast,  it  would  have  been  one  of  Handel's  most 
successful  works.  As  it  was,  the  public  was  tired  of 
opera  for  the  time  being,  and  Handel  was  compelled  to 
submit  to  the  inevitable.  With  what  feelings  he  did  so 
we  cannot  tell,  FitzGerald,  who  did  not  like  oratorios, 
believed  him  reluctant.  "Handel,"  he  wrote,  "was  a 
good  old  Pagan  at  heart,  and  (till  he  had  to  yield  to 
the  fashionable  Piety  of  England)  stuck  to  Opera  and 
Cantatas,  such  as  Acis  and  Galatea,  Milton's  Fenseroso, 
Alexander  s  Feast,  etc.,  where  he  could  revel  and  plunge 
and  frolic  without  being  tied  down  to  Orthodoxy.  And 
these  are  (to  my  mind)  his  really  great  works  :  these  and 
his  Coronation  Anthems,  where  Human  Pomp  is  to  be 
accompanied  and  illustrated."  That  Handel  was  a 
thoroughgoing  pagan  I  readily  agree,  but  even  pagans 
cannot  endure  misunderstanding,  opposition  and  con- 
tempt for  ever,  and  I  cannot  but  think  that  it  was  with 
a  sigh  of  relief  that  Handel  turned  his  back  upon  the 
stage  and  devoted  himself  to  the  composition  of  the 
oratorios  that  were  destined  to  bring  him  a  wider  and 
more  enduring  fame  than  the  fickle  world  of  the  theatre 
could  give. 


IT  has  been  said  by  those  whose  aim  is  to  belittle 
Handel  and  his  works,  that  he  did  nothing  to 
advance  the  development  of  music,  that  he  initiated  no 
new  forms,  but  was  content  to  work  upon  the  lines 
already  laid  down  by  his  predecessors.  It  is  true  that 
there  was  little  of  the  revolutionary  about  Handel,  and 
that  for  the  most  part  he  was  content  to  carry  existing 
forms  to  the  highest  possible  point  of  beauty  and  per- 
fection without  embarking  upon  uncharted  oceans  of 
discovery,  yet  the  charge  of  his  traducers  falls  to  the 
ground  if  we  consider,  to  take  but  one  instance,  the  work 
that  he  did  in  the  development  of  oratorio.  This  alone 
gives  him  a  right  to  rank  among  the  greatest  of  those  to 
whom  we  owe  the  modern  forms  of  music. 

Handel's  oratorio  style  was  the  product  of  many 
mingled  elements.  Germany,  Italy,  and  England  all 
had  a  hand  in  its  formation.  When  Handel  reached 
Florence  in  1706  he  had  little  to  learn  from  Italian 
composers  as  regards  church  music  pure  and  simple. 
Very  few  authentic  works  of  his  Halle  and  Hamburg  days 
have  survived  to  our  time.  The  early  oratorios  written 
under   Zachow's    influence    are    not    now    accepted    as 

Handel's,  and  of  late  grave  doubt  has  been  cast  upon  the 



authenticity  of  the  little  St.  John  Passion  music.  But 
the  Dixit  Doniinus  which  Handel  wrote  at  Rome  in  April 
1707  is  quite  enough  in  itself  to  show  how  completely  he 
had  assimilated  the  best  traditions  of  German  ecclesi- 
astical music,  Mr.  E.  J.  Dent,  the  biographer  of  Scarlatti, 
admits  indeed  that  in  some  ways  it  is  stronger  than 
anything  of  Scarlatti's  in  that  line.  The  vocal  writing 
is  sometimes  clumsy  and  inelegant,  but  the  rich  harmonic 
foundation  upon  which  the  whole  thing  is  built  is  typically 
German  in  its  breadth  and  solidity.  Finer  still  are  the 
Laudate  pueri  and  Nisi  Dominus,  which  date  from  the 
same  period.  The  latter  contains  a  particularly  imposing 
Gloria,  which  was  independently  performed  at  the  Handel 
Festival  of  1891  and  astonished  every  one  by  the 
vigorous  maturity  of  its  style.  But  Handel's  studies  in 
church  music  availed  him'  little  in  the  oratorios  which  he 
was  called  upon  to  write  during  his  sojourn  in  Rome.  In 
order  to  realise  the  position  of  oratorio  in  the  world  of 
music  at  that  time  it  will  be  necessary  to  turn  for  a 
moment  to  the  earlier  history  of  the  form. 

Born  almost  contemporaneously  with  opera  at  the  very 
beginning  of  the  seventeenth  century,  oratorio  was  in  its 
earliest  form  almost  indistinguishable,  save  in  subject,  from 
its  sister  art-form.  The  rudimentary  oratorios  of  Emilio 
del  Cavalieri  differ  but  slightly  from  the  operas  of  Peri 
and  his  fellows.  There  is  the  same  dull  waste  of  recitative, 
broken  by  no  oasis  of  melody,  the  same  slight  thin  little 
choruses,  the  same  tinkling  accompaniment.  Carissimi 
first  led  oratorio  upon  paths  peculiar  to  itself.  He  gave 
breadth  and  dignity  to  the  choruses,  and  character  to  the 
recitatives  and  airs.  More  important  still  for  the  future 
of  the  art,  he  abjured  the  more  specifically  dramatic 
effects  which  oratorio  had  hitherto  shared  with  opera,  and 

2  5  8  HANDEL 

invested  all  his  works  with  an  atmosphere  of  epic  grandeur 
and  sublimity,  which  more  than  aught  else  differentiated 
them  from  works  written  avowedly  for  stage  representa- 
tion. The  death  of  Carissimi  in  1674  left  oratorio 
apparently  established  upon  a  firm  basis,  but  his  influence 
was  not  strong  enough  to  overrule  the  pronounced  lean- 
ing of  the  Italian  genius  towards  drama  in  preference  to 
epic,  and  in  the  hands  of  his  successors,  notably  those 
of  Alessandro  Scarlatti,  oratorio  soon  began  to  lose  its 
characteristic  outline,  and  to  approach  more  and  more 
closely  to  the  confines  of  opera.  Rome  in  the  seventeenth 
century  was  as  definitely  the  home  of  oratorio,  as  Venice 
was  that  of  opera.  Carissimi  wrote  his  oratorios  for  the 
Oratory  of  San  Marcello,  and  it  was  at  Rome  that  his 
influence  should  have  been  strongest,  but  the  fates  were 
against  him,  and  the  Popes  themselves  unconsciously 
threw  their  influence  into  the  opposite  scale. 

In  1667  died  Clement  IX,  a  man  of  artistic  tastes, 
beneath  whose  amiable  rule  music  of  all  kinds  flourished 
like  a  green  bay-tree.  Innocent  XI,  who  succeeded  him, 
was  cast  in  a  different  mould.  He  was  a  stern  dis- 
ciplinarian, and  had  no  sympathy  for  the  arts.  He  seems 
to  have  been  particularly  hard  upon  theatres.  First  he 
forbade  actresses  to  wear  low-cut  dresses,  and  actually 
sent  his  sbirri  to  confiscate  their  short-sleeved  garments. 
Finally  he  banished  women  from  the  stage  altogether. 
His  successor,  Innocent  Xll,  who  ascended  the  papal 
throne  in  1691,  went  still  farther.  In  1697  he  closed  the 
Teatro  di  Tordinona,  and  thus  practically  suppressed 
opera  altogether.  Artistic  Rome  was  in  despair.  Cardinals 
wrung  their  hands,  and  the  Arcadian  Academy  filled  the 
air  with  lamentation.  But  opera,  expelled  by  the  papal 
fork,  came  back  in  a  new  disguise.     In  the  Oratory  of 


San  Marcello,  the  home  of  oratorio,  she  found  a  resting- 
place  for  the  sole  of  her  foot.  A  change  came  over  the 
spirit  of  the  place.  Already  the  music  of  the  oratorios 
there  performed  had  contrived  to  secularize  itself  amazingly 
since  the  days  of  the  severe  Carissimi.  Now  the  words 
also  were  to  know  the  touch  of  worldliness.  It  is  true 
that  the  performances  were  still  in  Latin,  but  to  the 
literati,  exiled  from  their  favourite  theatre,  who  took 
refuge  in  the  oratory,  Latin  was  a  mother-tongue.  Their 
influence  made  itself  felt,  and  ere  long  the  oratorios  were 
nothing  but  operas  in  disguise.  The  characters  were 
sacred,  but  their  emotions  and  the  language  in  which  they 
expressed  them  were  as  secular  as  even  a  seventeenth- 
century  Cardinal  could  desire.  Protoparentuni  Crimen 
et  Poena,  an  oratorio  on  the  subject  of  the  Fall,  is 
practically  one  long  love-duet  for  Adam  and  Eve,  and 
the  fact  that  Tamar,  Dinah,  Susanna,  and  Bathsheba  were 
the  heroines  of  a  few  other  oratorios  produced  at  this 
time  gives  a  good  idea  of  the  kind  of  subject  which  was 
popular  among  the  cultivated  circles  in  Rome. 

X  This  was  the  state  in  which  oratorio  was  languishing 
when  Handel  came  to  Rome  in  1707.  It  is  no  wonder 
that  a  stripling  of  two-and-twenty  fell  in  with  the  prevail- 
ing taste,  and  wrote  what  he  knew  would  find  favour  with 
his  wealthy  patrons.  Not  that  there  is  anything  distasteful 
in  the  libretto  of  La  Resurrezione,  but  in  spite  of  its 
subject  the  thing  is  opera  pure  and  simple.  There  are  only 
two  choruses,  both  very  slight  in  structure.  All  the  rest 
of  the  work  is  given  to  the  soloists.  La  Resurrezione  is 
divided  into  two  portions.  The  first  takes  place  during 
the  night  preceding  Easter  Day.  Lucifer  is  discovered 
exulting  over  the  death  of  Christ,  but  an  angel  warns  him 
that   his  triumph  is  to  be  shortlived.      Two  of  the  holy 

26o  HANDEL 

women  then  appear,  lamenting  their  dead  Lord,  and 
St.  John  cheers  them  with  the  hope  of  His  Resurrection. 
The  scene  of  the  second  part  is  laid  in  the  garden  of 
Arimathea,  but  the  actual  incidents  of  the  Resurrection 
are  not  described.  Christ  is  not  introduced  in  person, 
and  the  story  of  His  appearance  is  narrated  by  Mary 
Magdalene.  The  most  striking  figure  in  La  Resiwrezione 
is  Lucifer,  whose  music  has  many  characteristically 
vigorous  touches.  There  is  a  suggestion  of  grisly  horror 
in  his  invocation  to  the  powers  below,  "  O  voi  dell'  Erebo  " 
— the  one  air  in  the  oratorio  that  is  known  to  modern 
audiences — and  the  rushing  divisions  and  giant  intervals 
for  the  voice  give  an  impression  of  concentrated  fury, 
while  the  \ox\g  glissando  scale-passages  for  the  violins  have 
an  eerie  effect  which  the  composer  was  to  win  by  the 
same  means  a  few  years  later  in  the  incantation  scene 
in  Teseo.  A  proof  of  the  close  neighbourhood  in  which 
opera  and  oratorio  dwelt  in  those  days  is  furnished  by 
the  fact  that  Handel  transferred  a  good  deal  of  the 
Resurrezione  music  to  Agrippina  a  year  later.  Lucifer's 
air  already  mentioned  appeared  in  Agrippina  in  a  sort  of 
drawing-room  edition  as  an  amiable  ditty  about  constancy 
being  charmed  by  the  placid  ray  of  hope.  A  graceful  little 
song  expressing  Mary  Magdalene's  joy  in  her  Saviour's 
resurrection  was  put  into  the  mouth  of  the  triumphant 
Agrippina  without  any  alteration  whatever.  Such  strange 
transpositions  were  not  at  all  uncommon  in  the  eighteenth 
century,  and  indicated  no  unusual  levity  on  the  part  of  the 
composer.  Many  of  the  most  edifying  numbers  in  Bach's 
Christmas  Oratorio  were  taken  from  his  own  secular 
cantatas.  The  lovely  cradle-song  of  the  Blessed  Virgin,  for 
instance,  had  an  earlier  existence  as  a  song  of  seduction 
sung  by  the  siren  Pleasure  to  the  youthful  Hercules. 


Handel's  second  Italian  oratorio,  //  Trionfo  del  Tempo 
e  del  Disi)iganno,  is  not  perhaps  intrinsically  more  attract- 
ive than  La  Resurj-ezione,  but  it  has  a  special  interest  for 
the  student  as  being  the  germ  of  the  composer's  latest 
work,  The  TrmmpJi  of  Time  and  Truth.  Originally  written 
in  1708,  it  was  revised  for  performance  in  England  in 
1737,  still  in  its  Italian  form,  and  in  1757  it  was  translated, 
revised  and  enlarged,  and  finally  performed  in  its  familiar 
English  form.  In  the  main  lines  of  its  musical  structure 
it  resembles  La  Resurrezione,  though  its  frigid  allegorical 
libretto  gives  even  fewer  opportunities  for  dramatic  effect, 
and  there  are  sundry  differences  in  detail  between  the 
two  works.  //  Trionfo  contains  no  choruses  at  all,  only 
a  few  ensemble  numbers  for  the  solo  voices.  There  is 
much  less  instrumental  obbligato  work  in  //  Trionfo  than 
in  La  Resurrezione,  but  on  the  other  hand  the  orchestra 
plays  a  more  important  part.  Handel's  Neapolitan 
serenata,  Act,  Galatea  e  Polifenw,  is  far  slighter  in  construc- 
tion. It  has  some  pretty  orchestral  effects,  as,  for  example, 
in  the  obbligati  to  a  bird-song,  and  a  duet  for  two  violon- 
celli,  but  its  chief  musical  interest  lies  in  the  beautiful 
song  of  the  dying  Acis  and  in  the  suggestions  of  humour 
that  adorn  the  part  of  Polyphemus. 

When  Handel  came  to  England  in  1710,  he  thus  had 
at  his  command  two  perfectly  distinct  styles,  which  he 
had  not  till  then  had  occasion  to  blend,  the  German  style 
of  his  church  music — softened  to  some  extent  and  rendered 
less  angular  by  contact  with  Scarlatti  and  other  Italian 
musicians,  but  remaining  practically  the  art  that  he  learnt 
at  the  feet  of  Zachow  in  Halle — and  his  operatic  style 
which  was  almost  purely  Italian,  though  traces  of  Reiser's 
influence  and  the  fashions  that  moulded  Alinira  could 
still  be  traced   in  it.     In  England  a  third  influence  was 

262  HANDEL 

soon  brought  to  bear  upon  him.  His  visits  during  his 
first  stay  in  England  to  St.  Paul's  Cathedral,  where 
Maurice  Greene  officiated  as  his  organ-blower,  introduced 
him  to  Purcell  and  the  English  school  of  church  musicians. 
English  church  music  was  something  very  different  from 
anything  Handel  had  ever  heard  before,  and  it  could  not 
but  exercise  a  decided  influence  upon  his  plastic  genius. 
The  Ode  for  Queeji  Anne's  Birthday  (171 3),  the  first 
choral  work  written  by  Handel  upon  English  soil,  shows 
this  influence  in  a  marked  and  unmistakable  manner. 
It  opens  with  a  curiously  Purcellian  recitative,  and 
throughout  the  work,  particularly  in  the  duet  upon  a 
ground-bass,  there  are  continual  reminders  of  Purcell's 
style.  In  the  Utrecht  Te  Deum  and  J7ibilate,  which 
followed  close  upon  the  Birthday  Ode,  English  influences 
are  also  to  be  traced,  but  less  markedly.  Chrysander  has 
pointed  out  how  closely  Handel  followed  the  general 
design  of  Purcell's  Te  Dewn,  which  he  undoubtedly  heard 
at  the  Festivals  of  the  Sons  of  the  Clergy,  especially  as 
regards  the  alternation  of  chorus  and  solos.  That  is 
true,  but  there  is  comparatively  little  that  is  distinctively 
Purcellian  in  the  music  itself.  Handel's  mighty  strength 
of  wing  had  already  left  Purcell  far  behind.  His  broadly 
developed  choruses  owe  little,  if  anything,  to  Purcell's 
short  scrappy  movements.  In  the  solo  numbers  the 
influence  of  Purcell  is  felt  more  strongly.  The  duet, 
"  Vouchsafe,  O  Lord,"  and  the  alto  solo,  "  When  Thou 
tookest  upon  Thee,"  would  certainly  never  have  been 
written  in  anything  like  their  present  form  but  for 
Handel's  visits  to  St.  Paul's. 

X  In  the  Brockes  Passion^  which  Handel  wrote  in  17 16, 
there  is  a  return  to  the  German  style  of  his  youth.  The 
work  follows  in  its  general  lines  the  accepted  formula  for 


Passion  music  as  already  adopted  by  Keiser  and  other 
composers,  the  sacred  narrative,  here  presented  not  in  the 
words  of  the  Bible  but  in  doggerel  verse,  being  inter- 
spersed with  dramatic  choruses,  reflective  solos  and 
chorales  very  much  as  we  find  it  in  Bach's  familiar 
settings  of  the  Passion  story.  It  ought  to  be  much  more 
interesting  than  it  actually  is  to  set  Bach  and  Handel 
side  by  side  and  to  compare  their  respective  treatments 
of  the  same  theme.  As  a  matter  of  fact  the  comparison 
is  fruitless  simply  because  the  two  men  were  what  they 
were.  To  Bach,  with  his  profoundly  moral  view  of  life 
and  the  pietistic  Lutheranism  that  ran  in  his  blood,  the 
curious  medley  that  German  taste  had  made  of  the  story  of 
the  Passion  appealed  with  irresistible  force.  But  Handel's 
artistic  sensibilities  were  outraged  by  the  sentimental 
moralisings  with  which  the  subject  was  overlaid,  and  by 
the  aggressive  didacticism  that  often  obscured  the  simple 
majesty  of  the  Biblical  story.  The  frigid  extravagances 
of  Brockes's  poem  chilled  the  current  of  his  inspiration. 
The  truth  is  that  his  long  absence  from  Germany  had 
thrown  him  out  of  touch  with  his  countrymen's  view  of 
religion.  Italian  culture  and  English  Laodiceanism  had 
given  him  a  fresh  point  of  view,  and  he  could  not  fall 
back  into  the  groove  of  his  childhood's  belief  If  his 
Brockes  Passion  is  one  of  the  least  satisfactory  of  his 
works,  it  is  from  no  failure  in  musicianship — for  it  con- 
tains many  vigorous  passages,  and  at  least  one  scene,  that 
of  Christ's  agony  in  the  garden,  of  deep  and  moving 
beauty — but  because  it  gives  throughout  the  impression 
of  a  man  working  with  uncongenial  material.  If  Handel 
wished  to  prove  that  he  could  pit  himself  successfully 
against  his  old  rival  Keiser  he  won  his  case,  for  his 
Passion  seems  to  have  been  popular  in  Germany,  but  he 

264  HANDEL 

did  not  repeat  the  experiment,  and  the  Brockes  Passion 
was  the  last  work  in  which  he  set  his  mother  tongue  to 

Handel's  excursion  into  the  realms  of  German  music 
did  not  retard  the  development  of  his  English  style. 
Soon  after  his  return  to  England  he  entered  the  service 
of  the  Duke  of  Chandos,  and  during  the  next  few  years 
produced  the  famous  series  of  anthems  universally  known 
by  the  name  of  his  princely  patron.  Anthems  in  the 
ordinary  sense  of  the  word  the  Chandos  anthems  em- 
phatically are  not.  With  their  imposing  chain  of 
choruses  and  solos,  their  elaborate  overtures  and  full 
orchestral  accompaniment,  they  have  really  more  in 
common  with  the  church  cantatas  which  Bach  was  pour- 
ing forth  in  such  profusion  at  the  same  time.  But  here, 
as  in  the  case  of  the  Passion  music,  the  superficial 
resemblance  in  form  only  makes  the  essential  difference 
in  feeling  between  the  two  composers  the  more  striking. 
No  two  men  ever  envisaged  sacred  things  with  a  more 
profound  diversity  of  view.  The  burning  sincerity  of 
Bach's  genius  and  his  deeply  religious  nature  animate 
every  note  of  his  cantatas.  The  story  of  Haydn  offering 
up  a  prayer  before  beginning  to  compose  may  be  per- 
fectly true  of  Haydn,  but  it  would  be  much  truer  of  Bach. 
The  production  of  sacred  music  was  to  him  an  act  of 
adoration,  whereas  to  Handel  it  was  merely  an  artistic 
exercise.  Bach's  cantatas  breathe  the  inmost  secrets  of 
his  pious  heart.  Handel's  anthems  are  the  brilliant 
improvisations  of  an  accomplished  artist.  While  Bach  is 
on  his  knees  in  the  Holy  of  Holies,  Handel  is  leading  a 
gaily  robed  procession  through  the  echoing  aisles  of  the 
church.  To  modern  taste,  and  indeed  to  all  taste  that 
values  the  spirit  rather  than  the  body,  the  end  rather  than 


the    means,    Bach's   sacred    music   must    rank    far  above 
Handel's,  but  it  is  only  fair  when  we  are  comparing  the 
two  composers  to  look  upon  the  other  side  of  the  picture, 
and  to  remember  that  though  Bach  is  without  a  rival  in 
his   own    organ-loft   he   never   strayed    from  it,  whereas 
Handel's  range  of  thought  was  boundless,  and  he  was  as 
superior   to  Bach  in  secular  music  as  Bach  was  to  him 
in  sacred.     Handel's   church    music  was   enthusiastically 
admired  and  extravagantly  praised    during  his   lifetime, 
but  changes  of  fashion,  which   operate  as   drastically  in 
the    religious    world    as    in    the  secular,  have    estranged 
public  sympathy  from  this  particular  side  of  his  activity. 
The  pomp   and    glitter  of  many  of  the   anthems,  their 
ease    of  movement    and    their    affluent    inspiration,    still 
compel  admiration,  but  they  possess  few  of  those  qualities 
for  which   we  now  value  Handel.     Every  age  reads  its 
own  meaning  in  an  artist  and  his  work,  and  it  is  Handel's 
soaring  imagination  and  his  sympathy  with  every  phase 
of  human  feeling  that  now  enchain  us.     The  eighteenth 
century  admired  him  for  very  different  reasons,  and  the 
works  that  they  most  appreciated  leave  us  comparatively 
cold.     The  conventional  jubilations  of  the  Psalms  offered 
Handel   but   little   opportunity   for   the   exercise   of  his 
peculiar   talents.     His   setting   of  such   anthems  as   the 
well-known  "  O  praise  the  Lord  with  one  consent,"  and 
"  O  come,  let  us  sing  unto  the  Lord  " — the  only  two  of  the 
series  that  are  ever  publicly  performed  at  the  present  time 
— make  no  pretension  to  that  imaginative  power  which 
illuminates  the   oratorios.     They   are   vigorous,  straight- 
forward and  effective,  but  Handel's  keenest  admirer  can 
hardly  say  more  for  them  than  that.    In  some  of  the  other 
anthems,    which    it    is    almost    impossible    to    perform 
nowadays   owing   to    Handel's    employment   of  counter- 

266  HANDEL 

tenors  in  the  choruses  in  place  of  contraltos  and  tenors, 
there  are  occasional  passages  which  give  a  foretaste  of 
what  he  was  later  to  accomplish  in  his  oratorios.  In 
"  The  Lord  is  my  light"  there  is  a  splendid  sea-piece,  "  It 
is  the  Lord  that  ruleth  the  sea,"  which  was  afterwards 
elaborated  into  the  great  chorus  in  Isi-ael  in  Egypt "  But 
the  waters  overwhelmed  them,"  and,  finer  still,  a  wonder- 
ful thunder  and  lightning  chorus,  a  rough  sketch  for  the 
great  chorus  in  Joshua.  Perhaps  the  noblest  of  the 
Chandos  anthems  is  "  Let  God  arise,"  with  its  impressive 
opening  chorus,  in  which  the  scattered  enemies  flee  in  all 
directions  in  the  most  realistic  manner,  and  its  very- 
poetical  setting  of  the  words,  "  Like  as  the  smoke 
vanisheth."  In  a  tenderer  vein  is  the  beautiful  "  As  pants 
the  hart,"  an  anthem  of  which,  as  of  many  of  the  others, 
several  versions  exist,  the  alterations  and  revisions  being 
due  partly  to  changes  in  the  Canons  choir,  and  partly  to 
the  necessity  of  adapting  them  to  the  less  elaborate  choir 
of  the  Chapel  Royal.  Three  Te  Deums — the  third  a  free 
adaptation  of  the  second — also  date  approximately  from 
Handel's  Chandos  period.  They  are  grandiose  and 
sonorous  works  in  the  "  big  bow-wow "  manner  that  was 
so  much  admired  by  his  contemporaries,  but  now  seems  a 
trifle  too  much  bewigged  and  beruffled  for  modern  taste. 
That  in  B  flat  is  the  most  elaborate  and  is  usually  con- 
sidered the  finest,  but  all  three  are  works  of  uncommon 
dignity  and  grandeur  of  style.  They  express  the  pomp 
and  circumstance  of  religion  rather  than  its  holiest 
and  most  sacred  raptures,  but,  like  the  anthems,  they 
compel  admiration  by  the  consummate  ease  and  fluency 
of  their  technique,  and  they  furnish  a  triumphant  proof 
of  Handel's  superb  mastery  of  his  material. 

But  even  the  bright  array  of  Chandos  anthems  fades 


into  insignificance  by  the  side  of  the  two  great  works 
which  Handel  produced  while  an  inmate  of  Canons,  EstJier 
and  Acis  and  Galatea.  Esther,  the  first  oratorio  ever 
written  to  English  words,  is  all-important  in  the  history 
of  Handel's  artistic  development.  Like  many  other  art- 
forms,  English  oratorio  owed  its  birth  to  what  may  be 
called  a  happy  accident.  We  know  nothing  of  the  circum- 
stances that  led  to  the  composition  of  Esther,  but  there 
can  be  little  or  no  doubt  that  it  was  intended  for  stage 
performance.  It  was  originally  described  as  a  masque, 
and  was  performed  with  scenery  and  action  when  revived 
in  1732  by  the  children  of  the  Chapel  Royal.  Only  the 
prohibition  of  Bishop  Gibson  prevented  Handel  from 
giving  it  as  a  drama  on  the  stage  of  the  King's  Theatre. 
Thus  Esther,  though  rightly  called  an  oratorio  in  the 
modern  sense  of  the  word  as  being  the  harbinger  of 
the  mighty  succession  of  masterpieces  that  Handel  was 
subsequently  to  produce  in  this  form,  is  in  itself  a  hybrid 
work,  tracing  its  descent  to  Greek  tragedy  through 
Racine's  drama,  of  which  it  is  a  free  adaptation.  Racine 
avowedly  followed  Greek  methods,  seeking  to  establish 
a  due  balance  between  chorus  and  principals,  and  Pope, 
if  the  libretto  of  Esther  was  actually  his  handiwork, 
reduced  the  drama  to  a  minimum  and  gave  additional 
importance  to  the  chorus,  unconsciously  accentuating  the 
epic  element  which  was  eventually  to  distinguish  oratorio 
from  drama,  Esther  can  hardly  have  been  very  effective 
as  a  drama  owing  to  the  preponderance  of  the  choral 
element,  and  its  real  value  probably  only  became  apparent 
when  it  was  performed  as  an  oratorio.  It  is,  naturally 
enough,  somewhat  tentative  in  style,  and  the  fact  that 
Handel  used  a  good  deal  of  his  Passion  music  in  its 
composition,  sometimes  in  a  rather  indiscriminate  manner, 

268  HANDEL 

tends  to  blunt  the  sharpness  of  the  characterisation.  But 
though  as  a  whole  Esther  is  a  work  of  more  promise  than 
actual  performance,  it  is  rich  in  the  seeds  of  what  was 
afterwards  to  develop  into  the  grand  manner  of  Handel's 
later  days.  The  overture  has  always  been  a  favourite,  and  it 
is  valuable,  apart  from  its  sheer  musical  value,  as  a  rejoinder 
to  the  often  repeated  accusation  that  Handel's  overtures 
have  nothing  to  do  with  the  works  that  they  precede. 
In  this  respect,  indeed,  Handel  was  far  in  advance  of  his 
age.  The  Esther  overture  has  an  obvious  connection  with 
the  unfolding  of  the  drama.  The  first  movement,  closely 
allied  as  it  is  in  rhythm  to  Haman's  first  song,  plainly 
portrays  the  arrogance  of  the  tyrant ;  the  second  movement 
is  no  less  obviously  a  picture  of  the  Jewish  exiles'  grief 
and  despair,  while  the  note  of  triumph  sounds  clearly  in 
the  final  fugue.  As  to  the  oratorio  itself,  its  strength 
most  emphatically  does  not  lie  in  its  solos,  though  it  is 
surprising  how  well  some  of  them  fit  the  situation, 
considering  to  what  very  different  words  they  were 
originally  written,  and  what  very  different  emotions  the 
music  was  intended  to  illustrate.  Thus  Ahasuerus's 
graceful  love-song  was  originally  a  lament  sung  by  a 
believer  over  his  crucified  Saviour,  and  the  duet  in  which 
Esther  is  reassured  by  her  lord  is  an  adaptation  of  that 
sung  in  the  Passion  music  by  the  Blessed  Virgin  and 
Jesus  Christ  in  His  last  moments.  Strangest  of  all,  the 
moving  strains  in  which  Haman  pleads  for  his  life  with 
Esther  are  taken  from  Christ's  agony  in  the  Garden  of 
Gethsemane.  But  if  the  solos  in  Esther  are  not  alto- 
gether satisfactory,  many  of  the  choruses  are  magnificent, 
and  give  rich  promise  of  what  Handel  was  subsequently 
to  accomplish  in  handling  vast  masses  of  sound.  The 
plaintive  "  Ye  sons  of  Israel,  mourn,"  is  a  highly  successful 



first  essay  in  a  manner  of  which  the  beautiful  "  For  Sion 
lamentation  make,"  in  Judas  Maccabcsus,  is  perhaps  the 
most  familiar  example.  "  He  comes  to  end  our  woes " 
is  a  ringing  song  of  victory  in  Handel's  most  brilliant 
vein,  and  in  the  splendid  finale  he  put  to  triumphant  use 
the  experience  that  he  had  gained  in  his  Chandos 

Acis  and  Galatea  was,  like  EstheT-,  originally  called 
a  masque,  and  like  Esther  was  doubtless  intended  for 
stage  performance,  but  there  the  resemblance  between 
the  two  ends.  EstJier  was  a  pioneering  excursion  into 
an  undiscovered  country,  but  in  Acis,  Handel  was  on 
ground  that  he  had  already  traversed  during  his  Italian 
days.  The  English  Acis  has  nothing  in  common  with 
the  Neapolitan  Aci,  Galatea  e  Polifemo,  save  subject,  but 
it  is  a  nobler  and  richer  development  of  the  "  pastoral " 
that  had  been  popular  all  over  Europe  for  many  years. 
In  its  exquisite  strains  the  masques  of  Jacobean  times 
reached  a  brilliant  climax.  Acis  was  the  most  perfect 
work  Handel  had  yet  written,  some  might  say  the  most 
perfect  work  he  ever  wrote.  Gay's  pretty  poem  inspired 
him,  and  his  music  is  wrought  with  a  touch  at  once  delicate 
and  sure.  "  Do  you  know  the  music  ?  "  wrote  Edward 
FitzGerald  to  Frederic  Tennyson.  "  It  is  of  Handel's  best, 
and  as  classical  as  any  man  who  wore  a  full-bottomed  wig 
could  write."  Wig  or  no  wig,  it  has  the  magic  that  only 
genius  can  evoke,  and  the  romantic  charm  that  is  for  all 
time.  The  sunny  life  of  old  Sicily  sparkles  in  its  pages, 
the  very  spirit  of  Theocritus  breathes  through  its  delicious 
melodies.  We  know  it  nowadays,  alas !  only  as  a  cantata, 
but  its  proper  place  is  in  the  theatre,  as  the  few  who  can 
remember  Macready's  wonderful  revival  in  1842,  of  which 
FitzGerald  was  writing,  can    testify.       It  has  often  been 

270  HANDEL 

performed  on  the  stage  since  those  days,  and  always  with 
remarkable  success.  Even  the  grotesque  exhibition  given 
ten  years  ago  by  the  now  defunct  Purcell  Operatic  Society 
did  not  wholly  obscure  its  beauties. 

After  leaving  the  Duke  of  Chandos,  Handel  devoted 
his  energies  almost  exclusively  to  opera  for  many  years. 
The  coronation  of  George  II  in  1727  drew  him  for  a 
moment  from  the  stage  to  the  church.  The  four  anthems 
that  he  wrote  for  the  festal  service  rank  among  his  most 
famous  works,  and  in  their  own  particular  line  have  never 
been  surpassed.  Never  before  or  since  have  the  pomp  and 
splendour  of  human  things  been  set  to  music  of  more 
regal  magnificence.  The  voice  of  a  great  nation  speaks 
in  Handel's  majestic  strains.  The  flash  of  jewels  and  the 
glitter  of  gold  is  in  his  music.  The  spiritual  note  is  not 
touched — what  place,  indeed,  could  it  have  in  the  corona- 
tion of  George  II  ? — but  so  far  as  earthly  things  can 
compass  the  sublime  it  is  compassed  in  Handel's  Corona- 
tion music.  The  superb  dignity  of  the  anthems  has 
extorted  eulogy  from  men  more  famous  in  literature  than 
in  art.  Edward  FitzGerald,  a  devoted,  though  narrow 
Handelian,  thought  them  his  masterpiece.  "  Handel  never 
gets  out  of  his  wig — that  is,  out  of  his  age.  His  Hallelujah 
chorus  is  a  chorus,  not  of  angels,  but  of  well-fed  earthly 
choristers,  ranged  tier  above  tier  in  a  Gothic  cathedral, 
with  princes  for  audience,  and  their  military  trumpets 
flourishing  over  the  full  volume  of  the  organ.  Handel's 
gods  are  like  Homer's,  and  his  sublime  never  reaches  be- 
yond the  region  of  the  clouds.  Therefore  I  think  that  his 
great  marches,  triumphal  pieces,  and  Coronation  anthems 
are  his  finest  works."  One  of  De  Quincey's  opium-dreams 
refers  to  the  magnificent  opening  of  Zadok  the  Priest, 
the  first    of  the    four   anthems  :  "  Then   suddenly  would 


come  a  dream  of  far  different  character — a  tumultuous 
dream,  commencing  with  a  music  such  as  now  I  often 
heard  in  sleep,  music  of  preparation  and  of  awakening 
suspense.  The  undulations  of  fast-gathering  tumults 
were  like  the  opening  of  the  Coronation  anthem  ;  and, 
like  tJiat,  gave  the  feeling  of  multitudinous  movement,  of 
infinite  cavalcades  filing  off,  and  the  tread  of  innumerable 

The  revivals  of  Esther  ■a.x^i^  Act's  in  1732  turned  Handel's 
attention  once  more  in  the  direction  of  oratorio,  and  in 
1733  he  produced  Deborah,  which  was  thus  the  first  of  his 
sacred  oratorios  conceived  and  executed  as  such.  Deborah 
differs  totally  from  Esther  in  structure.  Esther  was  an 
oratorio  only  by  accident,  but  Deborah  was  specially 
designed  to  bring  into  play  those  mighty  forces  which 
in  Esther  only  made  but  a  fitful  appearance.  There  is 
nothing  dramatic  about  Deborah.  It  has  no  action  and 
very  little  characterisation.  The  scheme  of  the  work  is 
purely  epical.  It  tells  the  story  of  a  battle  of  nations. 
The  protagonists  are  no  mere  individuals,  but  the  rival 
powers  of  Israel  and  Amalek,  the  worshippers  of  Jehovah 
and  of  Baal,  joined  in  bitter  and  deadly  strife.  The  plot 
is  unfolded  almost  entirely  by  means  of  narrative  anf 
chorus,  the  utterances  of  Deborah,  Barak,  and  the  other 
characters  being  for  the  most  part  merely  comments  on 
the  situation.  Thus  the  structure  of  the  work  differs 
entirely  from  that  of  drama,  with  its  quick  play  of 
chequered  feeling,  and  approximates  far  more  closely  to 
that  of  the  epic,  in  which,  though  the  characters  appear 
and  pronounce  speeches,  they  seem  to  move  in  a  world 
far  removed  from  that  of  real  life.  The  stately  splendour 
of  Handel's  style  harmonised  incomparably  with  the  form 
that   he   had   practically   invented.      His    solemn    slow- 

272  HANDEL 

moving  airs  fit  as  perfectly  into  their  places  in  the  general 
scheme  as  do  the  speeches  in  Paradise  Lost,  The  varied 
passion  and  strenuous  emotion  that  in  his  operas  he  painted 
with  so  fine  a  touch  would  here  strike  a  jarring  note. 
Dignity  is  the  note  of  Deborah,  though  within  the  limits 
that  he  assigned  himself  Handel  found  room  for  powerful 
contrasts  and  felicitous  descriptive  effects.  The  overture, 
even  more  patently  than  that  of  Esther,  is  a  disproof  of  the 
assertion  that  Handel's  preludes  have  nothing  to  do  with 
the  works  that  they  usher  in.  Two  of  the  themes  are  actually 
taken  from  choruses  in  the  work  itself,onesungbythepriests 
of  Baal  and  the  other  by  the  Israelites,  and  the  overture  is 
obviously  designed  as  a  brief  compendium  of  the  struggle 
between  the  opposing  nations.  The  solos  are  the  least 
interesting  part  of  the  work.  Many  of  them  are  taken 
from  earlier  works,  from  the  Passion  and  from  various 
anthems.  They  are  often  skilfully  adapted  to  new  uses, 
but  there  is  little  attempt  at  characterisation,  and  the 
characters  are  for  the  most  part  merely  types.  Abinoam, 
the  father  of  Barak,  is  an  exception.  He  is  the  first  of 
the  wonderful  series  of  old  men,  whom  Handel  drew  with 
so  loving  a  hand.  His  song,  "  Tears,  such  as  tender  fathers 
shed,"  though  an  adaptation  of  an  air  in  one  of  the  Chandos 
anthems,  is  a  perfect  little  picture  of  the  tenderness  of 
paternal  love.  But  the  great  strength  of  Deborah  lies  in 
its  choruses,  which  are  something  altogether  different  from 
anything  the  world  had  seen  before.  In  grand  procession 
they  stride  along,  with  necks  with  thunder  clothed  and 
long  resounding  pace.  Several  are  taken  from  the  Corona- 
tion anthems,  but  the  new  ones  are  more  imposing  still. 
"  Immortal  Lord  of  earth  and  skies,"  "  See  the  proud 
chief,"  "  Lord  of  Eternity "  —  each  one  seems  more 
tremendous  than  the  last,  for  Handel's  coursers  never  tire. 


In  his  later  days  Handel  did  far  finer  and  subtler  work 
than  anything  in  Deborah,  but  he  rarely  surpassed  the 
ringing  choruses  in  which  the  might  of  Israel  defies  the 
pride  of  heathendom, 

Deborah,  as  we  have  seen  above  (p.  119),  was  very 
far  from  being  an  unequivocal  success.  The  raised 
prices  of  the  seats  got  Handel  into  serious  trouble, 
and  it  is  easy  to  believe  that  the  sonorous  splendour 
of  the  music  was  a  good  deal  above  the  heads  of  the 
audiences  of  Walpole's  London.  Handel  had  yet  to 
educate  his  followers  into  appreciating  his  sublime  epics. 
He  seems  to  have  felt  this  himself,  and  his  next  oratorio 
Athaliah-wdiS  much  slighter  in  design.  The  grave  majesty 
of  Deborah  here  gives  place  to  a  lighter  and  more  lyrical 
manner,  and  the  functions  of  the  chorus  are  considerably 
curtailed.  The  libretto  of  AthaliaJi  was  doubtless  partly 
responsible  for  this.  It  is  an  adaptation  of  Racine's 
Athalie,  and  has  a  good  deal  more  of  the  drama  about  it 
than  Deborah.  The  characters  are  more  carefully  treated, 
and  the  solos  are  on  a  distinctly  higher  level,  Athaliah 
herself  dominates  the  scene.  There  is  an  almost  ^schy- 
lean  grandeur  in  her  guilty  pride  and  insolence,  and  the 
superstitious  terror  inspired  by  her  boding  dream  gives  a 
curiously  heathenish  touch  to  her  strange  and  imposing 
figure.  In  charming  contrast  is  the  group  of  pious 
Israelites,  the  inspired  seer  Joad,  the  gentle  Josabeth,  and 
the  delightfully  boyish  Joash,  As  in  Deborah,  the  Israelites 
and  the  worshippers  of  Baal  are  employed  to  balance  the 
picture  with  striking  effect,  but  the  contrast  is  more 
subtly  elaborated  in  Athaliah.  The  voluptuous  beauty  of 
heathendom  is  emphasized  in  a  remarkable  way.  The 
chorus,  "  Cheer  her,  O  Baal,"  in  which  Athaliah's  disturbed 
spirits   are   soothed    by   her    attendants,   has   a   strange 

2;4  HANDEL 

languorous  charm  that  breathes  all  the  potent  magic  of 
the  perfumed  East,  and  no  less  insinuating  is  the  caressing 
tenderness  of  the  lovely  air,  "  Gentle  airs,  melodious 
strains."  The  Israelites'  music,  too,  if  less  overpowering 
than  the  stupendous  choruses  of  Deborah,  has  a  special 
charm  and  character  of  its  own.  Several  of  the  choruses 
are  fine  specimens  of  Handel's  grand  manner,  but  it  is  the 
lighter  numbers,  such  as  the  exquisite  chorus  of  virgins  in 
the  opening  scene,  and  the  delicious  duet,  "  Joys  in  gentle 
train  appearing,"  that  impart  to  AtJialiah  its  special  char- 
acter, and  give  it  a  place  of  its  own  among  Handel's 

The  two  works  which  Handel  wrote  in  1734  for  the 
marriage  of  his  patroness  and  pupil  the  Princess  Royal, 
were  almost  entirely  concocted  from  his  earlier  com- 
positions. Parnasso  in  Festa  was  mainly  drawn  from 
Atkaliah^  though  two  of  the  best  numbers  in  it,  the 
choruses  of  hunters  and  of  sylvans,  are  new,  and  the 
Wedding  anthem  was  altogether  an  adaptation  of  old 
material.  A  grander  note  was  struck  in  Alexander^ s  Feast 
(1736),  a  work  which  during  Handel's  lifetime  was  as 
popular  as  anything  that  he  produced.  It  is  curious  to 
note,  as  the  years  pass  by,  how  each  generation  in  turn 
seems  to  find  something  to  suit  its  own  special  require- 
ments in  the  works  of  the  great  masters.  Handel,  for. 
instance,  is  treasured  to-day  by  those  who  know  anything 
of  his  music  outside  The  Messiah  chiefly  for  his  imaginative 
qualities,  but  the  eighteenth  century  preferred  him  in  his 
more  rhetorical  vein.  The  critics  of  the  day  set  little 
store  by  even  such  a  tremendous  masterpiece  of  imagina- 
tion as  Israel  in  Egypt.  The  Messiah  itself,  judged  as  a 
work  of  art  pure  and  simple,  fell  flat.  It  was  only  when 
it  was  definitely  taken  over  by  the  Church  that  it  became 


popular.  What  people  preferred  in  those  days  was  the 
sonorous  dignity  of  the  Dettingen  Te  Deum  and  the  glitter- 
ing pageantry  of  Alexander's  Feast,  and,  as  we  have  seen, 
the  same  view  of  Handel  prevailed  even  down  to  the  days 
of  FitzGerald.  Alexatiders  Feast  is  indeed  a  masterpiece 
in  its  own  way.  Handel's  music  is  an  admirable  equiva- 
lent for  the  ringing  rhetoric  of  Dryden.  If  one  looks  in 
vain  for  profound  feeling  or  soaring  imagination,  Handel 
gives  you  instead  admirable  workmanship,  inexhaustible 
vigour,  and  unfaltering  dignity  of  utterance.  Alexander' s 
Feast  is  a  wonderful  series  of  pictures,  each  one  dashed 
off  in  broad  splashes  of  colour  by  the  hand  of  a  master. 
When  Handel  is  in  this  vein  his  simple  directness  of 
method  is  overpowering.  He  seems  to  hurl  his  effects 
straight  in  your  face.  It  was  of  such  music  as  this  that 
Mozart  was  thinking  when  he  said,  "  When  he  chooses, 
he  strikes  like  a  thunderbolt." 

The  anthem  written  in  1736  for  the  Prince  of  Wales's 
wedding  was  a  much  better  piece  of  work  than  the  hastily 
put  together  pasticcio  of  1734.  Handel  turned  to  it  often 
in  after-life,  and  the  greater  part  of  the  music  is  familiar 
to  us  in  the  slightly  altered  form  in  which  it  reappeared 
in  The  Triumph  of  Time  and  Truth  and  other  oratorios. 

The  spring  of  1737  saw  the  revival  in  a  remodelled 
form  of  Handel's  Italian  oratorio,  //  Trionfo  del  Tempo, 
to  which  we  will  return  in  discussing  the  final  form  in 
which  the  work  was  presented  in  1757. 

In  the  following  autumn  he  composed  the  beautiful 
anthem  for  the  funeral  of  Queen  Caroline,  a  work  which, 
for  dignity  of  utterance  and  depth  of  feeling,  yields  to 
nothing  that  he  ever  wrote.  But  all  his  previous  triumphs 
paled  before  the  two  great  oratorios  that  he  composed 
in    1738,   Saul  and    Israel  in   Egypt.      In    Saul   Handel 

276  HANDEL 

found  a  subject  worthy  of  his  powers.  The  libretto  is 
skilfully  put  together,  and  Handel  wedded  it  to  music 
which  combines  the  force  and  majesty  of  Deborah  with 
the  freshness  of  Atlialiah.  The  special  note  of  Saul  is 
picturesqueness.  Each  scene  in  turn  is  handled  with  a 
graphic  touch  that  makes  every  detail  start  into  life 
with  singular  vividness.  Take  the  opening  scene,  in 
which  the  people  of  Israel  welcome  the  youthful  hero, 
David,  after  his  victory  over  the  Philistines,  First  we 
hear  the  sounds  of  rejoicing  in  the  distance,  little  more 
than  a  joyful  marchlike  movement  accompanied  by  the 
ringing  of  a  peal  of  bells.  Then  the  maidens  of  Israel 
appear,  leading  the  long  procession.  The  music  swells 
into  a  wonderful  swaying  rhythm  as  they  dance  forward 
singing  a  chorus  of  enchanting  freshness  and  simplicity. 
The  scene  darkens  for  a  moment  while  Saul  passes  along 
muttering  envious  curses,  only  to  brighten  again  as  the 
whole  body  of  the  people  burst  into  triumphant  chorus 
with  the  blaring  of  trumpets  and  the  crashing  of  drums. 
Later  in  the  work  comes  the  appropriate  pendant  to 
this  brilliant  scene  of  rejoicing  —  the  wonderful  lament 
over  the  bodies  of  the  slain  king  and  his  son.  Never, 
even  in  Samson,  did  Handel  give  voice  to  the  strains 
of  a  nation's  lamentation  in  tones  of  a  sublimer  pathos. 
The  varied  emotions  of  the  scene  are  depicted  in  his 
music  with  all  that  concentrated  power  of  imagination 
which  is  Handel's  special  property.  First  comes  the 
solemn  procession  bearing  the  bodies  of  Saul  and 
Jonathan  to  the  immortal  strain  of  the  Dead  March, 
while  the  people  lift  their  voices  in  a  chorus  of  mourn- 
ing for  the  fallen  warriors  of  Israel.  David's  eulogy  of 
the  heroes  strikes  a  sterner  note.  There  is  a  touch  of 
the   fierce   joy   of  battle   in   the   music   as   he   sings   of 


the  sword  of  Saul,  and  how  it  "drank  the  blood  of 
slaughtered  foes."  The  people  catch  the  spirit  of  his 
words,  and  echo  them  in  a  short  chorus  of  almost  bar- 
baric rapture.  Then  the  music  changes  again,  as  David 
sings  of  Jonathan  and  the  love  that  passes  the  love  of 
women,  leading  into  a  chorus  in  which  the  very  soul 
of  passionate  grief  is  transmuted  into  sound.  After 
the  tension  of  this  scene,  the  relief  of  the  final  chorus 
is  unspeakable.  It  is  a  jubilant  prophecy  of  the  future 
triumphs  of  David,  and  brings  the  oratorio  to  a  close 
with  the  thunder  of  victory.  These  are  only  two  of  the 
many  noble  passages  in  Saul.  There  are  others  no  less 
striking,  such  as  the  famous  Envy  chorus  and  the  weird 
incantation  scene  in  the  witch's  cavern  at  Endor.  The 
character-drawing  in  the  oratorio  is  more  graphic  than 
anything  Handel  had  yet  attempted,  though  his  touch 
was  to  become  surer  in  his  later  years.  Saul's  jealous 
misanthropy  is  well  contrasted  with  the  boyish  charm 
of  David,  and  another  happy  touch  is  gained  by  the 
contrasted  emotions  of  the  gentle  Michal  and  the  haughty 
Merab.  Very  striking,  too,  is  the  music  associated  with 
the  "  monster  atheist,"  Goliath,  which  those  who  are 
interested  in  tracing  foreshadowings  of  modern  effects 
in  the  music  of  older  masters  should  compare  with 
Wagner's  giant  music  in  Das  RJieingold.  The  orchestra- 
tion of  Saul  is  particularly  interesting.  Handel  here 
employed  effects  which  he  never  subsequently  attempted 
in  oratorio,  feeling  probably  that  the  epic  character  of 
the  form  demanded  an  austerer  method  of  treatment 
than  was  legitimate  in  opera.  The  score  of  Saul  is 
enriched  by  trombones,  and  has  an  independent  organ 
part  —  the  latter  a  rare  feature  in  eighteenth-century 
music.     The  use  of  a   carillon   of  bells  gives  a  special 

278  HANDEL 

colour  to  the  Israelite  rejoicings  in  the  opening  scene, 
and  two  bassoons  are  employed  with  eerie  effect  to 
support  the  utterances  of  Samuel's  ghost.  A  curious 
instance  of  Handel's  occasional  use  of  archaic  instru- 
ments is  to  be  found  in  David's  exorcism  of  the  evil 
spirit,  which  is  accompanied  by  a  theorbo. 

Immediately  upon  the  completion  of  Saul^  Handel 
plunged  into  the  composition  of  Israel  in  Egypt.  No 
two  works  could  present  a  more  complete  contrast. 
Handel  seems  to  have  been  making  experiments  in  the 
matter  of  form,  and  at  this  point  in  his  career  he  was 
evidently  wavering  between  the  dramatic  and  the  epic 
varieties  of  oratorio.  The  rapid  play  of  individual 
emotion  in  Saul  gives  place  to  a  severely  epic  manner 
of  narration.  Save  for  the  few  bars  allotted  to  Miriam, 
the  solos  in  Israel  are  purely  impersonal.  The  tale  of 
the  salvation  of  the  chosen  people  is  told  almost  entirely 
in  a  chain  of  gigantic  choruses,  illustrating  the  sufferings 
of  Israel  in  the  land  of  bondage,  the  plagues  inflicted 
by  Jehovah  upon  the  Egyptians,  the  escape  of  the 
Israelites,  the  passage  of  the  Red  Sea,  and  the  final 
song  of  victory.  The  subject  is  colossal,  and  its  treat- 
ment no  less  so.  The  possibilities  of  choral  music  as 
a  means  of  expression  are  practically  exhausted  in  Israel. 
Nothing  like  it  had  been  heard  before  its  day,  nor  has 
been  attempted  since.  Israel  remains  one  of  the  most 
astonishing  tours  de  force  in  the  history  of  music.  As  a 
combination  of  massive  grandeur  of  style  and  picturesque 
force,  it  stands  alone.  It  is  like  a  vast  series  of  frescoes 
painted  by  a  giant  on  the  walls  of  some  primeval  temple. 
The  colours  may  have  faded,  but  the  sublime  conception 
and  the  grand  strength  of  line  survive  to  astonish  later 
and    more    degenerate   ages.      The    range   of    Handel's 


genius  was  never  more  triumphantly  displayed  than  in 
Israel.  The  skill  with  which  each  separate  effect  is 
gained  is  no  less  striking  than  the  unfailing  power  of 
picturesque  suggestion.  Each  of  the  plague  choruses 
is  a  masterpiece  in  its  way.  There  is,  as  it  were,  a 
shudder  of  disgust  in  the  diminished  sevenths  and  the 
passages  of  descending  semitones  in  "  They  loathed  to 
drink  of  the  waters,"  which  is  considerably  more  im- 
pressive than  the  somewhat  naif  realism  of  the  succeed- 
ing solo,  "  Their  land  brought  forth  frogs."  But  if  the 
frogs  cannot  be  taken  very  seriously,  the  tremendous 
exordium  of  "  He  spake  the  word  "  transports  us  to  a 
very  different  world,  and  the  swarming  flies  and  tramp- 
ling locusts  are  painted  with  no  loss  of  epic  grandeur. 
Finer  still  is  the  famous  Hailstone  chorus,  one  of  those 
big  primitive  things  which  are  typical  of  one  side  of 
Handel's  genius.  The  means  by  which  the  gathering 
storm  is  suggested  are  almost  ludicrously  simple,  but 
they  never  miss  fire,  and  the  climax  bursts  upon  us  with 
terrific  majesty.  Finest  of  all  is  "  He  sent  a  thick  dark- 
ness," in  which  the  voices  of  a  bewildered  people  cry 
to  each  other  through  the  murky  air  with  so  strangely 
desolate  a  pathos.  But  space  forbids  a  minute  analysis 
of  so  familiar  a  work,  and  I  must  be  content  to  touch 
on  some  of  the  most  prominent  features  of  the  oratorio. 
It  is  characteristic  of  Handel  that  often  a  word  or  a 
phrase  was  enough  to  stimulate  his  genius  to  astonishing 
flights  of  imagination.  Thus  the  words,  "He  led  them 
forth  like  sheep,"  are  responsible  for  the  deliciously 
pastoral  flow  of  the  chorus,  "  But  as  for  his  people." 
Similarly  in  a  later  chorus,  "  The  people  shall  hear,"  the 
composer  fastened  upon  the  phrase,  "  till  thy  people 
shall  pass  over,  O  Lord,"  and  made  it  the  foundation  of 

2  8o  HANDEL 

an  amazing  picture  of  the  weary  march  of  the  Israelites 
through  the  desert — a  picture  heightened  by  harmonies 
which,  even  to  us,  seem  audacious  in  their  rugged  dis- 
sonance, and  to  an  eighteenth-century  audience  must 
have  sounded  much  as  the  harmonic  experiments  of 
Strauss  or  Debussy  sound  to  modern  ears.  This  is 
immediately  followed  by  another  picture,  suggested  by 
the  words  "  Thou  shalt  bring  them  in,"  in  which  the 
serene  loveliness  of  the  land  flowing  with  milk  and  honey 
is  painted  with  a  tranquil  charm  that  is  intensified  by 
the  harsh  discords  of  the  preceding  chorus,  Handel 
appreciated  the  majesty  and  splendour  of  the  sea  as 
perhaps  no  other  composer  in  the  whole  history  of  music 
has  done.  His  works  are  full  of  noble  sea-pictures,  and 
Israel  is  particularly  rich  in  them.  The  solemn  march 
of  the  children  of  Israel  through  the  wild  waters  is 
grandly  suggested  in  "  He  led  them  through  the  deep," 
and  even  finer  is  "  But  the  waters  overwhelmed  them," 
through  which  the  tumultuous  glory  of  the  lashing 
waves  surges  with  such  marvellous  freshness  and  vigour ; 
but  the  greatest  moment  of  all  is  the  tremendous  close 
of  "  And  with  the  blast  of  Thy  nostrils,"  where  the  depths 
congealed  in  the  heart  of  the  sea  are  painted  with  that 
awful  simplicity  of  which  Handel  alone  held  the  secret. 
"  Egypt  was  glad "  is  a  happy  instance  of  Handel's 
ingenious  use  of  other  men's  work  for  his  own  purposes. 
It  is  borrowed  almost  note  for  note  from  an  organ 
canzona  by  an  obscure  German  composer  named  Kerl, 
but  it  fits  admirably  into  its  place.  Handel's  conception 
of  the  Egyptians  was  that  of  a  dull,  hide-bound  race, 
whom  even  the  miraculous  series  of  plagues  scarcely 
disturbed  in  the  narrow  groove  of  their  complacent 
apathy.      He   here   contrasts    their    frozen   conservatism 


with  the  progressive  genius  of  the  Israelites  by  the  use 
of  archaic  methods  of  expression.  The  idea  is  felicitous, 
and,  like  most  of  Handel's  experiments,  is  carried  out 
with  complete  success.^  But  everything  else  in  Israel 
pales  before  the  astounding  finale,  in  which  triumphant 
rapture  is  tuned  to  such  strains  as  Handel  himself  never 
surpassed.  The  tremendous  "  I  will  sing  unto  the  Lord  ""; 
soars  to  fabulous  heights  of  sonorous  splendour,  and  fitly  j 
brings  to  a  close  an  oratorio  which  has  a  place  of  its  own 
among  the  world's  masterpieces.  Handel  might  justly 
have  said  of  Israel,  as  Wagner  said  of  Tristan  und  Isolde, 
that  it  was  an  extravagance,  not  to  be  repeated  nor 
imitated,  but  of  all  his  works  it  is  the  most  completely 
out  of  the  reach  of  every  other  composer  who  ever  lived. 

After  Israel  Handel  may  well  have  felt  that  even  his 
tireless  coursers  needed  some  repose,  and  his  next  two 
works  were  on  a  much  less  ambitious  scale.  Tlie  Ode  for 
St.  Cecilia's  Day,  though  brief  in  compass,  ranks  among 
Handel's  finest  and  most  characteristic  works.  Dryden's 
poem,  written  as  it  was  for  musical  setting,  offers  every 
possible  opportunity  for  varied  treatment.  The  opening 
recitative,  "When  nature  underneath  a  heap  of  jarring 
atoms  lay,"  is  a  curious  piece  of  descriptive  writing,  in 
which  odd  little  snatches  of  naif  realism  jostle  passages 
of  real  grandeur.  In  some  of  the  airs  that  follow,  the 
obbligato  passages  now  sound  sadly  antiquated  and 
meaningless,  but  there  is  a  splendidly  martial  ring  in  the 
very  Purcellian  "  The  trumpet's  loud  clangour,"  and  the 
air  alia  Hornpipe,  "  Orpheus  could  lead  the  savage  race," 
into  which  Handel,  who  apparently  liked  Scotchmen  no 

^  The  question  of  Handel's  indebtedness  to  earlier  composers,  of  which 
Israel  in  Egypt  affords  perhaps  more  striking  instances  than  any  of  his  other 
works,  is  discussed  in  Appendix  C. 

282  HANDEL 

more  than  did  Dr.  Johnson,  introduced  an  unmistakable 
allusion  to  the  bagpipes,  is  deliciously  fresh  and  quaint. 
But  the  two  great  movements  of  the  work  are  the  lovely 
organ-song,  "  But  oh !  what  art  can  teach,"  with  its 
wonderful  atmosphere  of  tranquil  ecstasy,  and  the 
tremendous  finale,  in  which  the  awful  terrors  of  the 
Judgment  Day  are  painted  with  a  sublime  majesty 
worthy  of  the  brush  of  Michael  Angelo  himself. 

Very  different  in  scope  is  Handel's  setting  of  Milton's 
L Allegro  and  //  Penseroso,  arranged  by  Jennens,  and 
adorned  with  a  singularly  tasteless  coda  of  his  own 
devising,  //  Moderato.  Here  Handel  laid  aside  his  wig, 
and  wrote  a  work  which  stands  by  itself  for  freshness  of 
inspiration  and  delicacy  of  treatment.  U Allegro  is  a 
series  of  exquisite  genre  pictures  sketched  with  the 
lightest  touch  and  yet  elaborated  with  the  most  intimate 
detail.  Nothing  that  Handel  has  left  us  shows  more 
convincingly  his  love  of  nature.  U Allegro  is  full  of 
delicious  studies  in  plein-airisine.  The  country  breezes 
blow  freshly  and  sweetly  through  it,  and  the  perfume  of 
the  wild  rose  lingers  in  its  tender  melodies.  The  recitative, 
"  Mountains,  on  whose  barren  breast,"  is  a  wonderful  piece 
of  landscape-painting,  and  who  has  ever  surpassed  the 
romantic  moon-rise  in  the  second  part  of  "  Sweet  bird," 
so  rarely  sung  by  the  sopranos  who  revel  in  the  faded 
coloratura  of  the  opening  section  ?  In  a  different  vein  is 
the  enchanted  mystery  of  the  "  summer  eves  by  haunted 
stream,"  and  the  woodland  magic  of"  Hide  me  from  day's 
garish  eye."  It  is  worth  noting  that  L Allegro  was 
written  during  the  great  frost  of  1740,  yet  there  is  no 
touch  of  winter  in  its  merry  strains.  Snow-bound  as  he 
was  in  London,  Handel  seems  to  have  harked  back  in 
imagination    to    the   fields    and    hedgerows  of  Edgware. 


L Allegro  rings  with  the  sounds  of  rustic  mirth.  "  Let 
me  wander"  is  a  delicious  little  idyll  of  the  meadows, 
leading  into  the  innocent  gaiety  of  "  Or  let  the  merry 
bells  ring  round,"  with  youth  and  maiden  dancing  in  the 
chequered  shade.  Another  perfect  little  vignette  is  the 
hunting  scene  pictured  in  "  Mirth  admit  me  of  thy  crew," 
and  the  note  of  honest  English  merriment  rings  clear 
in  the  splendidly  vigorous  laughing-song,  "  Haste  thee, 
nymph."  But  L Allegro  is  not  all  out-of-door  life  by  any 
means.  There  is  a  charming  little  song  in  which  the  bell- 
man in  the  street  and  the  cricket  on  the  hearth  have  a 
quaint  kind  of  duet,  and  the  fireside  picture  in  "  Oft  on  a 
plat  of  rising  ground,"  with  the  curfew  tolling  in  the 
distance,  is  as  perfect  as  a  Dutch  interior  by  Teniers  or 

I  have  lingered  over  V Allegro  not  merely  on  account 
of  its  intrinsic  beauty,  but  because  it  is  one  of  the  best 
proofs  we  have  of  Handel's  extraordinary  breadth  of 
sympathy.  Nothing  in  man  or  nature  came  amiss  to 
him.  It  is  impossible  not  to  feel  that  the  man  who  wrote 
L Allegro  knew  all  about  the  scenes  he  was  describing. 
Not  only  had  he  sat  dreaming  in  close  covert  by  some 
brook,  and  wandered  over  russet  lawns  and  fallows  grey, 
but  he  had  discussed  the  hay  crop  with  the  mower  as  he 
whetted  his  scythe,  and  as  like  as  not  danced  to  the 
rebeck's  sound  with  the  buxom  wenches  of  Edeware, 


FAMILIARITY  breeds  contempt,  the  proverb  tells 
us.  I  am  by  no  means  sure  that  that  is  true  as 
a  general  rule,  and  when  it  does  happen  I  am  inclined 
to  think  that  the  contempt  is  well  deserved,  so  that  the 
familiarity  merely  uncloaked  the  weaknesses  which  were 
not  perceptible  at  a  first  acquaintance.  However,  famili- 
arity breeds  a  good  many  other  things  as  well,  chiefly 
misunderstanding.  It  is  the  most  familiar  things  that  are 
the  most  misunderstood.  Look  at  the  Bible,  for  instance, 
which  all  of  us  are  supposed  to  know  by  heart.  Is  there 
a  more  misunderstood  book  in  the  world  ?  How  many  of 
the  pious  people  who  daily  absorb  a  portion  of  it  ever 
realise,  to  take  one  point,  the  transcendent  literary  beauty 
of  our  Authorised  Version  ?  How  many  even  realise  its 
value  as  a  record  of  fact?  They  allow  themselves  to 
be  hypnotised  by  its  supposed  sanctity,  and  forget  that  it 
purports  to  be  a  record  of  the  actions  of  human  beings. 
As  a  rule  those  who  read  it  oftenest  know  least  about  it. 

Look  again  at  Gullivers  Travels,  which  I  suppose, 
next  to  the  Bible,  The  Pilgrim's  Progress,  and  Robinson 
Crusoe,  is  the  book  that  the  average  Englishman  knows 
best.     How  strange  has  been   its  fate.     The  marvellous 

and  terrible  book  in  which  Swift  poured  forth  the  stored 



passion  of  his  savage  soul  and  glutted  his  hatred  of  the 
animal  man,  has  sunk  to  the  rank  of  a  nursery  primer 
from  which  lisping  infants  learn  to  spell.  The  fate  of 
The  Messiah  has  been  in  some  ways  harder  still. 
The  stupendous  masterpiece  in  which  Handel  released 
Christianity  from  the  bondage  of  fact,  and  wrote  the 
romance  of  human  redemption  in  characters  of  immortal 
fire,  is  now  degraded  to  the  level  of  a  mild  digestive 
which  helps  the  struggling  Nonconformist  conscience  to 
tide  over  the  festivities  of  Christmas.  The  ceremony  of 
attending  a  performance  of  The  Messiah  is  to  the  average 
Englishman  as  immutable  a  Christmas  institution  as  going 
to  church  or  eating  a  slice  of  turkey.  If  you  tell  him  that 
The  Messiah  is  a  work  of  art,  you  either  amuse  or  shock 
him.  A  work  of  art,  indeed — he  would  as  soon  apply  the 
phrase  to  a  plum-pudding  ! 

As  a  matter  of  fact,  The  Messiah  is  not  only  a  very 
great  work  of  art,  but  it  is  actually  the  first  instance  in 
the  history  of  music  of  an  attempt  to  view  the  mighty 
drama  of  human  redemption  from  an  artistic  standpoint. 
We  have  only  got  to  compare  The  Messiah  with  such  a 
work  as  Bach's  Matthew  Passion  to  see  how  entirely  its 
point  of  view  differs  from  that  of  a  work  written,  so  to 
speak,  under  the  wing  of  the  Church.  Bach's  Passion 
is  only  a  work  of  art  by  accident.  It  was  primarily 
written  for  edification,  and  edification,  however  excellent 
a  thing  in  itself,  has  nothing  to  do  with  art,  though  art 
is  often  compelled  to  be  its  handmaid.  Bach's  Passion 
is  a  church  service,  Handel's  Messiah  is  a  poem. 
Bach  deals  with  facts,  Handel  with  ideas.  I  am  con- 
tinually reading  in  popular  little  musical  handbooks  of 
the  day  that  Bach  is  extraordinarily  modern  in  feeling, 
and   Handel  altogether  old-fashioned.     Very  likely  that 

286  HANDEL 

may  be  so  in  some  way  that  I  do  not  understand,  but  it 
strikes  me  that  as  regards  their  view  of  reHgion  precisely 
the  opposite  is  the  case.  Bach's  attitude  to  Christianity 
is  just  what  one  would  expect  from  a  man  of  his  bringing 
up  and  surroundings.  He  is  a  very  good  example  of  the 
average  pietistic  eighteenth-century  Lutheran,  with  his 
bloodthirsty  delight  in  the  realistic  details  of  Christ's 
passion,  very  much  in  the  style  of  our  own  pious  poet 
who  wanted  to  be  washed  from  his  sins  in  a  bath  of 
blood  or  something  of  the  kind.  We  have  moved  on  a 
little  since  those  days,  and  even  the  extreme  Evangelicals, 
if  any  of  them  still  survive,  would  now  find  Bach's 
Christianity  slightly  out  of  date.  Handel's  view  of 
Christianity,  on  the  other  hand,  is  so  surprisingly  modern 
that  the  only  book  in  which  I  have  found  it  paralleled 
with  any  exactness  is  Mr.  George  Santayana's  Interpreta- 
tions of  Poetry  and  Religion,  which  was  published  only  a 
few  years  ago.  I  will  venture  to  borrow  a  few  passages 
from  that  very  remarkable  work,  because  I  find  Handel's 
attitude  to  Christianity  as  I  read  it  in  TJie  Messiah  better 
expressed  in  Mr.  Santayana's  words  than  in  any  that  I 
could  myself  devise.  In  The  Messiah,  then,  as  I  have 
said,  for  the  first  time  in  the  history  of  music  we  find 
the  drama  of  human  redemption  treated  as  a  poem,  not 
as  a  record  of  events.  While  his  predecessors  and  con- 
temporaries had  exercised  their  art  in  presenting  the 
story  of  Christ  in  its  most  human  and  realistic  colours, 
Handel  realised  that  the  facts  of  Christ's  life  were  nothing 
until  they  became  symbols,  and  that  the  Christian  system 
was  in  fact  a  picture  of  human  destiny,  an  epic  containing, 
as  it  were,  the  moral  autobiography  of  man.  The  cruci- 
fixion, for  example,  seemed  to  him  a  tragic  incident 
without   further   significance   if    regarded   merely   as   an 


historical  fact,  as  unessential  to  the  Christian  religion  as 
was  the  death  of  Socrates  to  the  Socratic  philosophy.  In 
order  to  make  it  a  religious  mystery,  an  idea  capable  of 
converting  the  world,  the  moral  imagination  must  trans- 
form it  into  something  that  happens  for  the  sake  of  the 
soul,  so  that  each  believer  may  say  to  himself  that  Christ 
so  suffered  for  the  love  of  him.  Then,  by  ceasing  to  be 
viewed  as  an  historical  fact,  the  death  of  Christ  becomes 
an  inspiration.  The  whole  of  Christian  doctrine  is  thus 
religious  and  efficacious  only  when  it  becomes  poetry, 
because  only  then  is  it  the  felt  counterpart  of  personal 
experience  and  a  genuine  expression  of  human  life.  This 
is  the  idee  mere  of  TJie  Messiah.  The  aim  of  the  work  is 
purely  artistic.  It  has  no  didactic  purpose.  It  is  not  a 
sermon,  but  a  song — a  magnificent  effort  of  the  human 
imagination,  exercised  upon  the  greatest  and  most 
inspiring  of  conceivable  subjects.  Incidentally  it  is  also 
extremely  edifying,  but  its  edificatory  purpose  has  been 
read  into  it  by  modern  hearers  who  have  found  in  The 
Messiah  what  they  wished  to  find,  rather  than  what  the 
composer  meant  them  to  find.  But  it  is  the  special 
property  of  great  works  of  art  that  they  mean  one  thing 
to  one  generation  and  one  to  another.  The  Messiah  has 
a  message  to  high  and  low,  rich  and  poor,  wise  and 
foolish  alike.  By  the  side  of  imaginative  flights  of  such 
measureless  sublimity  that  they  soar  far  beyond  the  ken 
of  ordinary  mortality,  it  contains  passages  so  simple  and 
direct  that  the  dullest  mind  can  comprehend  them.  The 
Messiah,  if  not  Handel's  greatest  work,  is  undoubtedly 
the  most  universal  in  its  appeal. 

Charles  Jennens,  the  compiler  of  the  text,  has  never 
had  justice  done  to  him.  His  libretto  is  really  a  very 
able    piece    of  work.      Knowing   as    we   do   how   often 

288  HANDEL 

Handel  stayed  beneath  his  roof,  we  may  take  for  granted 
that  the  two  worked  together  at  TJie  Messiah,  and  it  is 
possible  that  Handel  had  a  larger  share  in  the  prepara- 
tion of  the  text  than  Jennens,  whose  letter  on  the  subject 
has  already  been  quoted,  cared  to  admit.  However  that 
may  be,  the  ingenuity  with  which  the  words  are  selected 
is  remarkable.  Jennens  took  especial  pains  to  steer  clear, 
so  far  as  was  possible,  of  a  mere  statement  of  the  facts  of 
Christ's  life,  emphasizing  rather  the  ideas  that  underlie 
them,  and  using  the  prophetic  language  of  the  Old 
Testament  in  preference  to  the  narrative  of  the -New. 
This  alone  did  much  towards  raising  the  work  from  the 
earthly  region  of  prose  to  the  ethereal  heights  of  poetry. 
But  the  libretto  alone  is,  of  course,  nothing  but  a  string 
of  texts,  however  skilfully  juxtaposed.  It  was  Handel's 
genius  that  welded  them  into  a  sublime  work  of  art. 
The  Messiah,  as  has  been  said,  tells  the  story  of  man's 
redemption.  It  is  divided  into  three  sections,  the  first  of 
which  sets  forth  the  promise  of  the  Redeemer,  the  birth 
of  Christ,  and  His  mission  of  healing  and  comfort ;  the 
second  is  devoted  to  His  passion,  resurrection,  and  ascen- 
sion, the  preaching  of  the  gospel,  the  discomfiture  of  the 
heathen,  and  the  establishment  of  the  kingdom  of  God 
upon  earth ;  the  third  .part  deals  with  the  Christian 
belief  in  the  resurrection  of  the  body,  and  ends  with  the 
triumph  of  the  redeemed  and  the  glory  of  heaven. 

Face  to  face  with  a  subject  of  this  character,  Handel 
felt  that  the  picturesque  orchestration  which  is  so 
prominent  a  feature  of  Satil  would  be  out  of  place.  The 
drama  of  human  redemption  demanded  an  austerer  and 
more  reticent  mode  of  treatment.  The  score  of  The 
Messiah  is  one  of  the  simplest  that  Handel  ever  wrote. 
Save  in  the  choruses,  where  the  voice  parts  are  doubled 


)y  wind  instruments,  and  trumpets  and  drums  are 
sparingly  used,  the  accompaniments  are  written  almost 
vvithout  exception  for  strings  alone.  Yet  within  the 
narrow  limits  that  he  assigned  to  himself  Handel's 
comm.and  of  varied  colour  is  remarkable,  and  Sir 
Frederic^  Bridge's  highly  successful  experiment  of 
performing-,  The  Messiah  at  the  Albert  Hall  with  the 
original  orchestration  h^s  opened  the  eyes  of  many,  who 
knew  the  oratorio  only  as  disguised  in  the  elegant 
embroidery  of  Mozart's  additional  accompaniments,  to 
the  real  beauty  ano'  majesty  of  Handel's  score. 

Nothing  is  so  difficult  to  criticise  as  the  familiar ; 
and  to  English  musicians,\  who  have  known  every  note 
of  The  Messiah  from  the/r  childhood,  it  is  especially 
difficult  to  get,  as  it  were,  o  itside  the  work,  to  banish  the 
sentimental  associations  t'  at  have  clustered  round  it, 
and  to  regard  it  as  a  w  )rk  of  art  pure  and  simple. 
There  are  many  well-mea  .ing  persons  to  whom  such  an 
attitude  of  mind  is  dista'  ceful.  The  Messiah  is  to  them 
a  thing  above  all  criticiF:m,  occupying  a  place  apart  from 
Handel's  other  works,  indeed  apart  from  all  other  music 
whatsoever.  But  it  is  no  good  taking  The  Messiah  on 
trust  as  a  sort  of  divinely  inspired  revelation.  The  only 
way  to  understand  and  appreciate  it  is  to  pick  it  to  pieces, 
just  as  if  it  were  a  new  work  by  a  composer  of  our  own 

The  overture,  gloomy  and  austere  in  tone,  presents  a 
picture  •f  the  world  plunged  in  sin  and  despair,  before 
the  premise  •f  a.  Messiah  hari  kindled  the  hope  of  ever- 
lasting life.  On  this  scene  of  doubt  and  darkness  the 
voice  of  the  Comforter  strikes  with  magical  effect.  The 
change  from  minor  to  major  at  the  opening  of  the  accom- 
panied recitative,  "  C©mf»rt  ye  my  people,"  is  one  of  th«se 

2  90  HANDEL 

effects,  all  the  more  thrilling  from  their  very  simpHcit}  ' 
of  which  Handel  held  the  secret.  The  following  air 
"Every  valley,"  is  on  a  distinctly  lower  level.  Like  £(> 
many  of  Handel's  songs — and  of  Bach's  too,  (or  ^  \  t 
matter,  to  say  nothing  of  most  of  the  other  eightoe..., 
century  composers — it  is  defaced  by  the  inte^rminable 
divisions,  which  were  accepted  by  Georgian  audiences 
as  conventionally  expressive  of  joy  and  gladness,  but 
seem  to  modern  ears  as  frigid  and  tastele^^s  as  the  stucco 
ornaments  of  a  barocco  church — so  Utile  does  one  era 
accept  the  conventions  of  another.  !  Apart  from  its 
,  divisions  and  its  vigorous  and  pirited  flow,  there  is  very 
little  in  "Every  valley"  w  i  lingering  over,  and  the 
naz'veU' with  which  the  "  ro-.  place-.  "  are  made  plain  is 
apt  to  provoke  a  sm'ic.  2Nioi  is  ihe  chorus,  "And  the 
glory  of  the  Lord,"  in  any  seni  2  one  of  Handel's  greatest 
achievements.  There  is  a  ceri  in  straightforward  vigour 
about  it  in  which  Handel's  mu»ic  is  rarely  deficient,  but 
its  rhythm  sadly  lacks  dignity  and  its  development  is 
long-winded,  and  the  great  effec.!:  of  the  repeated  note 
is  much  better  managed  in  the  ''  Ht^llelujah"  chorus,  for 
which  indeed  "And  the  glory"  is  hardly  more  than  a 
rough  sketch.  Far  more  striking  is  the  great  scena  that 
follows,  which  was  originally  written  for  a  contralto  but 
is  now,  according  to  a  precedent  established  by  Handel 
himself,  usually  assigned  to  a  bass.^  The  opening 
recitative,  "  Thus  saith  the  Lord,"  is  extraordinarily  in.-, 
pressive ;    even   the   quaintly   realistic    divisions   on    the 

^  Considerations  of  space  forbid  me  to  discuss  the  questions  raised  by  a 
comparison  of  the  various  MSS.  of  T/ie  Messiah.  Numerous  versions  of 
many  of  the  airs  exist,  and  a  study  of  the  changes  introduced  by  Handel 
into  the  oratorio  is  exceedingly  interesting.  With  regard  to  details,  students 
will  find  Sir  William  Cusins's  pamphlet  on  The  Messiah  (Augener  &  Co., 
1874)  extremely  valuable. 


word  "  shake "  seem  to  fit  into  their  place  very  happily. 
The  following  air, "  But  who  may  abide,"  is  one  of  Handel's 
most  startlingly  original  productions.  The  mere  form  of 
the  air  was  probably  unprecedented  in  his  time,  and  the 
contrast  between  the  terrible  desolation  of  the  opening 
larghetto  and  the  rushing  flickering  flames  of  the  refiner's 
fire  in  the  succeeding  prestissimo  is  astonishingly  fine. 
This  is  one  of  the  passages  in  The  Messiah  that  has 
gained  most  by  the  recent  return  to  Handel's  original 
accompaniment.  Mozart,  if  the  additions  usually  attri- 
buted to  him  are  actually  his,  seems,  as  in  many  other 
instances,  to  have  totally  misapprehended  Handel's 
meaning.  His  graceful  embroideries  completely  obscure 
the  carefully  designed  contrast  between  guilty  man 
standing  defenceless  upon  the  bare  earth  and  the  advent 
of  the  terrible  Judge  in  flames  and  tempest.  The  interest 
of  the  chorus,  "  And  He  shall  purify  the  sons  of  Levi,"  is 
purely  musical.  I  confess  that  I  have  not  the  least  idea 
what  connection  the  words  have  with  the  "  plot "  of  The 
Messiah,  and  I  doubt  if  Handel  had  much  more.  He 
adapted  the  music  from  one  of  a  set  of  Italian  duets  that 
he  had  written  just  before  beginning  The  Messiah,  a 
blameless  ditty  about  nothing  in  particular,  and  it  fits 
the  sons  of  Levi  just  as  well  as  the  flowers  and  sunsets 
of  the  original  poem. 

The  little  recitative  that  follows,  "  Behold,  a  virgin 
shall  conceive,"  short  as  it  is,  is  one  of  the  most  wonderful 
things  in  The  Messiah.  It  has  the  tender  exaltation  of 
one  of  Giovanni  Bellini's  Madonnas,  with  a  touch  of 
sacred  awe  that  was  out  of  Bellini's  compass.  The  same 
note  of  solemnity  sounds  through  the  rapture  of  "  O  thou 
that  tellest  good  tidings  to  Zion,"  and  lifts  it  above  mere 
jubilation.     One  of  the    most   striking   features  of   The 


292  HANDEL 

^  Messiah  is  the  skill  which,  in  spite  of  its  purely  epical 
structure,  Handel  arranged  his  contrasts.  The  bass 
recitative  and  air,  "  For  behold,  darkness  shall  cover  the 
earth,"  would  be  extraordinarily  impressive  in  any  context, 
but  placed  as  it  is  between  two  of  the  "  high  lights  "  of  the 
work  it  is  doubly  effective.  Simple  as  are  the  means 
employed,  it  is  one  of  the  most  speaking  musical  pictures 
ever  painted.  "  The  people  that  walked  in  darkness " 
affords  a  particularly  good  instance  of  the  advantage 
gained  by  performing  TJie  Messiah  as  Handel  wrote  it, 
and  not  as  other  people  think  he  ought  to  have  written 
it.  Mozart's  wind  parts,  so  beautiful  in  themselves  and 
so  utterly  inappropriate  to  the  subject,  do  not,  as 
Rockstro  truly  observed,  suggest  darkness  at  all,  but 
rather  an    enchanted   atmosphere   of  soft   golden   light  ; 

^  whereas  Handel's  unison  passages  for  strings  and 
bassoons  give  a  picture  of  a  people  groping  its  way 
through  the  blackness  of  night,  to  which  music  affords 
no  parallel  for  force  and  intensity.  "  For  unto  us  a  child 
is  born "  is  another  of  the  choruses  that  owes  its  birth 
to  one  of  the  Italian  duets  already  mentioned,  and  the 
process  of  its  development  deserves  the  most  careful 
study.  Here  again  those  who  have  only  heard  it 
caricatured  in  Mozart's  version  know  nothing  of  Handel's 
real  meaning.  Mozart's  added  brass  not  only  ruins  the 
effect  of  Handel's  skilfully  contrived  climax  in  this 
particular  chorus,  but  defeats  the  design  of  the  whole 
oratorio.  "  For  unto  us  "  is  the  climax  of  the  prophetic 
section,  but  it  is  still  prophecy,  not  fulfilment.  Handel 
carefully  reserved  his  trumpets  until  the  following 
section,  just  as  he  reserved  the  soprano  voice  to  lend 
brightness  to  the  advent  of  the  promised  Messiah.  It  is 
curious  that  Mozart,  of  all  people   in  the  world,  should 


have  missed  this  important  point,  since  he  did  very  much 
the  same  thing  in  Don  Giovanni,  reserving  his  trombones 
to  add  impressiveness  to  the  supernatural  terrors  of  the 
closing  scenes. 

In  the  Pastoral  Symphony  and  the  following  numbers 
we  come  nearer  to  drama  than  in  any  other  part  of  The 
Messiah.  The  birth  of  Christ  is  not  described,  but  we 
are  taken  to  the  fields  where  the  shepherds  abode  by 
night,  and  we  listen  with  them  to  the  angelic  communica- 
tion. The  climax  is  contrived  with  Handel's  usual  care 
and  skill.  The  lovely  Pastoral  Symphony  paints  the 
tranquil  scene  in  colours  the  most  delicate  and  subtle. 
It  is  worth  noticing  that  Handel,  true  to  his  principle  of 
keeping  to  low  tones  in  the  orchestration  of  The  Messiah, 
chose  not  to  employ  the  traditionally  pastoral  hautboys 
in  this  movement.  The  entry  of  the  soprano  voice,  so 
long  delayed,  strikes  on  the  ear  with  a  clarion  note  of 
exaltation,  and  through  the  chain  of  recitatives  that 
follow — which  cost  Handel  a  great  deal  of  trouble  before 
he  arrived  at  the  final  form — the  excitement  grows  with* 
each  bar  until  the  angelic  choir  bursts  in  with  its  jubilant 
cry  of  "  Glory  to  God,"  accompanied  by  the  trumpets 
that  now  are  heard  for  the  first  time.  The  glitter  and 
sparkle  of  this  chorus  is  astonishing.  Here  in  good 
truth  are  the  "  voices  that  seem  to  shine "  of  which  the 
old  Elizabethan  poet  wrote,  while  the  thrilling  notes  of 
the  trumpets  and  the  rushing  passages  for  the  violins 
seem  to  throw  open  the  skies  and  give  wondrous  glimpses 
of  celestial  radiance  beyond.  Mozart's  treatment  of 
Handel's  orchestration  in  this  chorus  is  so  incredible  as 
to  raise  a  serious  doubt  whether  the  accompaniments 
traditionally  ascribed  to  him  can  possibly  be  by  his  hand. 
Not  only  did  he  completely  spoil  the  effect  of  the  entry 

294  HANDEL 

of  the  trumpets  by  adding  trumpet  parts  to  "  For  unto 
us,"  but  in  "  Glory  to  God  "  he  actually  cut  out  Handel's 
trumpet  parts  and  wrote  others  of  his  own,  leaving  the 
voices  in  the  opening  bars  supported  only  by  strings  and 
wood  and  reserving  the  trumpets  until  the  words,  "  and 
peace  on  earth."  The  close  of  the  chorus,  with  its  ex- 
quisite diminuendo  as  the  angels  gradually  disappear,  is 
another  characteristically  Handelian  passage,  which  may 
possibly  have  suggested  to  Wagner  the  close  of  his 
Lohengrin  prelude  where  the  angels  who  have  brought  the 
Holy  Grail  to  earth  disappear  in  the  trackless  blue,  and 
indeed  the  whole  number  is  a  shining  instance  of  Handel's 
extraordinary  command  of  picturesque  effect.  The 
flashing  soprano  air,  "  Rejoice  greatly,  O  daughter  of 
Zion,"  is  a  fine  example  of  the  legitimate  use  of  coloratura, 
to  which  the  serene  loveliness  of  the  passage,  "  He  shall 
speak  peace  unto  the  heathen,"  forms  a  perfect  contrast. 

In  a  very  different  vein  is  the  succeeding  air,  "  He 
shall  feed  His  flock,"  in  which  Christ's  earthly  mission 
of  comfort  and  consolation  is  painted  in  music  whose 
infinite  tenderness  expresses,  as  only  the  greatest  of  all 
musicians  could  express  it,  the  wonderful  secret  of 
Christianity,  the  charm  that  won  the  world  from  the 
radiant  gods  of  Greece  and  taught  it  to  bow  at  the  feet 
of  the  Good  Shepherd  gathering  the  lambs  with  His 
arms  and  carrying  them  in  His  bosom.  Never  till  Jesus 
Christ  was  born  had  the  conception  of  a  God  of  Pity 
dawned  upon  the  world,  and  never  till  Handel  wrote 
The  Messiah  had  music  clothed  with  her  conquering 
magic  the  figure  of  the  Divine  Comforter  whose  message 
is  to  them  that  labour  and  are  heavy  laden.^     Not  alto- 

*  It  has  often  been  stated  that  the  practice  of  allotting  the  first  section  of 
"He  shall  feed  His  flock"  to  a  contralto  and  the  second  to  a  soprano  is  of 


gether  worthy  of  what  has  gone  before,  for  all  its  rich 
musical  beauty,  is  the  chorus,  "  His  yoke  is  easy,"  which 
brings  the  first  part  to  a  close.  It  is  yet  another  adapta- 
tion from  the  Italian  duets,  and  carries  the  mark  of  its 
origin  in  the  curious  opening  phrase,  which,  however 
appropriate  to  the  flowers  laughing  in  the  sunlight,  to 
which  it  was  first  applied,  is  singularly  ill  adapted  to 
the  yoke  that  Christ  laid  upon  His  people. 

The  second  part  of  The  Messiah  brings  us  to  the 
passion  of  Christ,  but  the  librettist,  true  to  the  spirit  of 
the  work,  has  carefully  avoided  any  reference  to  the 
physical  side  of  the  tragedy,  insisting  rather  on  its  inner 
meaning.  We  are  bidden  to  contemplate  not  the  bodily 
sufferings  of  Jesus,  but  the  mystery  of  the  atonement. 
It  is  not  the  human  Christ,  scourged,  stricken  and 
crucified,  that  is  put  before  us,  but  the  Lamb  of  God 
that  taketh  away  the  sins  of  the  world.  The  solemn 
opening  chorus,  breathing  the  tragedy  of  infinite  loneliness 
in  its  austere  beauty,  leads  into  the  famous  "  He  was 
despised,"  in  which  the  note  of  utter  desolation  is  still 
further  emphasised.  It  is  curious  to  note  how  the  well- 
modem  origin,  and  a  defiance  of  Handel's  original  intention.  This,  how- 
ever, is  not  so ;  in  fact,  if  the  MS.  notes  in  the  copy  of  the  original  libretto 
now  in  the  British  INIuseum  are  to  be  relied  on,  the  air  was  sung  in  this  way 
at  the  first  performance  of  The  Messiah.  It  is  true  that  in  the  autograph  the 
whole  of  the  air  is  in  the  key  of  B  flat,  but  the  Dublin  MS.  contains  both 
versions.  The  version  now  used  is  unquestionably  an  improvement  upon 
that  given  in  the  autograph.  The  device  of  giving  the  earthly  message  of 
comfort  to  a  contralto  and  its  celestial  application  to  a  soprano  a  fourth 
higher  is  nothing  less  than  a  stroke  of  genius,  while  the  change  to  the  key 
of  F  is  a  great  relief  to  the  ear,  which  would  otherwise  resent  the  monotony 
of  three  long  pieces  in  the  key  of  B  flat.  Possibly,  too,  a  severely  practical 
reason  may  be  at  the  bottom  of  the  transposition,  for  if  only  one  soprano 
soloist  were  available,  it  would  be  too  much  to  expect  her  to  pass  without  any 
interval  from  the  briUiant  coloratura  of  "Rejoice  greatly"  to  the  suave 
caniabile  phrases  of  "  He  shall  feed  His  flock." 

296  HANDEL 

meaning  persons  who  chose  to  embroider  Handel's  score 
with  additional  accompaniments  contrived  to  ignore  his 
obvious  intentions  on  every  possible  occasion.  In  the 
thirty-third  bar  of  this  air,  Handel,  who  well  knew  the 
majesty  of  silence,  left  a  pause  of  half  a  baj"  before  the 
entry  of  the  unaccompanied  voice.  This  pause  Mozart 
filled  up  with  meaningless  chords,  while  Franz,  not  to 
be  outdone  in  tastelessness  and  stupidity,  actually  added 
a  passage  for  the  clarinet,  anticipating  the  vocal  phrase 
and  completely  robbing  it  of  its  marvellous  dignity  and 
pathos.  The  wonderful  second  part  of  "  He  was  despised  " 
(almost  invariably  omitted  at  performances  in  England) 
adds  a  touch  of  poignancy  hy  a  reference  to  the  actual 
sufferings  of  Christ,  and  so  leads  us  on  to  the  almost 
intolerable  anguish  of  "  Surely  He  hath  borne  our  griefs." 
After  this  climax  of  emotion  some  relief  was  necessary, 
and  Handel,  whose  artistic  instinct  was  Athenian  in  its 
subtlety,  relieves  the  tension  with  a  chorus  of  purely 
musical  interest,  "  And  with  His  stripes  we  are  healed  " — 
just  as  Euripides  in  his  Troades  soothed  the  overtaxed 
feelings  of  his  audience,  after  the  terrible  scene  in  which 
Astyanax  is  torn  from  Andromache's  arms,  with  the 
purely  sensuous  beauty  of  the  famous  Salamis  chorus. 
I  have  myself  no  very  great  admiration  for  "  And  with 
His  stripes,"  but  I  recognise  its  value  in  the  picture. 

"  All  we  like  sheep  "  is  a  picture  painted  in  Handel's 
broadest  manner.  The  colour  is  positively  hurled  at 
the  canvas.  But  the  result  is  colossal.  The  sheep 
wandering  without  a  shepherd  seem  to  have  the  whole 
world  for  their  pasture,  and  the  tremendous  coda,  in  which 
the  promise  of  atonement  is  thundered  forth,  seems  to  be 
written  upon  the  skies  for  all  the  nations  to  read. 

We  now  exchange  the  general  for  the  particular,  and 


the  libretto,  leaving  the  purely  epical  treatment  of  the 
atonement,  leads  us  as  it  were  to  the  foot  of  the  cross. 
Yet  even  here  the  physical  side  of  Christ's  passion  is  left 
out  of  sight ;  it  is  the  contrast  between  His  mental  agony 
and  the  scoffs  of  the  crowd  of  unbelievers  that  forms 
the  subject  of  the  picture.  Similarly,  the  actual  facts  of 
the  resurrection  and  ascension  are  barely  hinted  at,  the 
triumph  of  the  Saviour  over  death  and  the  grave  and 
His  ascent  to  heaven  amidst  throngs  of  chorusing  angels 
being  suggested  rather  than  described  in  the  two  beautiful 
airs,  "  But  Thou  didst  not  leave  His  soul  in  hell,"  and 
"  Thou  art  gone  up  on  high,"  and  in  the  accompanying 
choruses,  "  Lift  up  your  heads,"  and  "  Let  all  the  angels 
of  God  worship  Him." 

The  libretto  then  turns  to  the  evangelisation  of  the 
world  by  the  apostles  and  their  followers.  The  opening 
number  of  this  section,  "The  Lord  gave  the  word,  great 
was  the  company  of  the  preachers,"  is  far  from  being 
one  of  the  most  impressive  choruses  in  The  Messiah, 
but  it  is  technically  interesting  to  the  Handelian  student 
as  an  instance  of  Handel's  ingenious  manner  of  working 
up  old  material.  The  opening  notes  at  once  recall  the 
thrilling  opening  of  the  chorus,  "  He  spake  the  word,"  in 
Israel  in  Egypt,  and  the  device  for  expressing  the  count- 
less multitude  of  preachers  is  borrowed  from  the  music 
illustrating  "the  busy  hum  of  men,"  in  L Allegro.  The 
following  air,  "  How  beautiful  are  the  feet,"  gave  Handel 
more  trouble  than  anything  else  in  the  oratorio.  Numerous 
versions  of  it  exist  in  numerous  forms,  and  it  is  character- 
istic of  the  composer  that  he  finally  decided  upon  the 
simplest  of  them  all.  But  the  well-known  saying  of 
Paesiello,  questo  semplice  com'  e  difficile,  is  truer  of  Handel's 
music  than  of  that  to  which  it  was  originally  applied.     It 

298  HANDEL 

is  his  simplest   things  that  are  most   effectually  beyond 
the  reach  of  imitators. 

The  chorus,  "  Their  sound  is  gone  out  into  all  lands," 
was  an  afterthought  added  to  the  work  after  the  first 
performance,  and  is  the  only  number  in  The  Messiah 
that  has  independent  parts  for  hautboys.  Not  only  in 
this  is  it  remarkable.  To  it  as  justly  as  to  anything 
that  Handel  wrote  can  the  epithet  romantic  be  justly 
applied.  The  long  sweeping  phrases  that  paint  the  flight 
of  the  good  tidings  over  land  and  sea  have  a  soaring 
freedom  of  utterance  that  gives  a  character  to  this  chorus 
distinct  from  anything  else  in  Tlie  Messiah. 

So  far  we  have  traced  the  spread  of  the  gospel,  but 
now  comes  a  picture  of  the  vain  wrath  of  the  heathen 
who  flout  its  message,  in  the  turbulent  energy  of  the  bass 
air,  "  Why  do  the  nations  so  furiously  rage  together  ? " 
and  the  succeeding  chorus,  "  Let  us  break  their  bonds 
asunder."  But  the  divine  vengeance  follows  closely. 
The  impotent  strivings  of  pagan  insolence  are  crushed 
in  the  splendidly  vigorous  "  Thou  shalt  break  them  in 
pieces,"  and  the  whole  earth  joins  in  a  paean  of  triumph 
//  over  the  final  victory  of  Christianity  in  the  world-famous 
"Hallelujah."  Familiar  as  the  "Hallelujah"  chorus  is, 
it  is  often  profoundly  misunderstood,  particularly  by 
those  who  have  instituted  comparisons  between  it  and 
the  "  Sanctus "  of  Bach's  Mass  in  B  minor.  The  two 
compositions  have  nothing  in  common.  Li  the  "  Sanctus  " 
we  hear  the  voices  of  the  celestial  choir,  chanting  the 
praise  of  the  Omnipotent,  and  casting  down  their  crowns 
upon  the  crystal  sea.  The  '■  Hallelujah "  chorus,  on  the 
other  hand,  is  essentially  of  the  earth  earthy.  Its  place 
in  The  Messiah  proves  incontestably  that  it  is  a  human 
N    song  of  rejoicing.     "  The  kingdom  of  this  world,"  it  cries, 


"is  become  the  kingdom  of  our  Lord  and  of  His  Christ." 
We  must  wait  until  the  close  of  the  oratorio  to  hear  the 
anthem  of  those  which  have  come  out  of  great  tribula- 
tion and  washed  their  robes  and  made  them  white  in 
the  blood  of  the  Lamb. 

The  third  part  of  the  oratorio  deals  with  the  resurrec- 
tion of  the  body  and  the  life  of  the  world  to  come. 
After  the  multitudinous  thunders  of  the  "Hallelujah" 
chorus  a  marvellous  effect  of  contrast  is  gained  by  the 
austere  simplicity  of  "  I  know  that  my  Redeemer  liveth,"  . 
in  which  the  chaste  purity  of  the  soprano  voice,  supported 
by  a  studiously  unadorned  accompaniment,  suggests  a 
cry  of  faith  and  hope  rising  from  a  world  of  doubt  and 
darkness.  The  air  is  one  of  Handel's  profoundest  inspira- 
tions, but  those  who  know  it  only  when  choked  by 
additional  accompaniments,  can  never  have  grasped  its 
true  meaning.  To  take  but  one  instance,  it  is  not  until 
Mozart's  intrusive  viola  part  has  been  removed  that  the 
full  force  of  the  setting  of  "the  first  fruits  of  them  that 
sleep "  can  be  properly  appreciated.  Then  and  not  till 
then  is  Handel's  violoncello  part  properly  heard,  pulsating 
through  the  violins  and  organ  with  a  strange  throb  of 
expectation,  which  tells  in  a  language  plainer  than  words 
of  the  sure  and  certain  hope  that  lives  even  in  death. 

In  the  chain  of  brief  choruses  that  follows,  "Since  by 
man  came  death,  by  man  came  also  the  resurrection  of 
the  dead,"  Handel  contrasts  the  old  and  new  dispensa- 
tions with  startling  force,  borrowing  harmonies  and 
cadences  from  the  music  of  old  time  to  emphasize  the 
archaic  dogmas  of  the  Law,  and  leaving  the  unaccom- 
panied voices  of  the  chorus  to  tell  of  the  old  Adam  and 
his  death,  while  the  sudden  blaze  of  the  orchestra 
illuminates   the   new  Christ   and    His   resurrection.     But 

300  HANDEL 

before  the  promised  life  is  won    the  mysteries  ~  of  death 
and  judgment  must  be  faced.     The  trumpet-call  of  doom 
sounds  in  the  stately  recitative   and  air,  "  Behold    I   tell 
you  a  mystery,"  and    "  The   trumpet   shall    sound,"   and 
in  the  succeeding  duet,  "  O  death,  where  is  thy  sting  ? " 
leading  into  the  chorus,  "  But  thanks  be  to  God,"  death 
is  swallowed  up  in  victory.     The  last  note  of  triumphant 
faith  sounds  in  the  rarely  heard  air,  "  If  God  be  for  us," 
and    in   the   final    chorus,   "  Worthy   is   the    Lamb,"   the 
Christian  is  at  last  in  the  presence  of  his  Maker.     It  is 
only  necessary  to  compare  "  Worthy  is  the  Lamb  "  with 
,  the   "  Hallelujah "    chorus   to    realise    the    difference   in 
1  atmosphere  between  the  two.     The  "Hallelujah"  chorus 
is  an  earthly  song  of  praise,  in  which  the  thousand  throats 
of  humanity  unite  to  hymn  the  triumph  of  their   Lord, 
but  in  "  Worthy  is  the  Lamb  "  we  hear  the  voices  of  the . 
redeemed.     Even  here  the  voice  of  the  devil's  advocate 
is  heard,  pointing  out  how  Handel  lacks  the  spirituality 
of  Bach,  how  far,  in    short,  "  Worthy  is   the   Lamb "   is 
beneath  the  great  "  Sanctus  "  in  the  B  minor  Mass  as  an 
,  expression  of  rapturous   exaltation.     In    a   certain  sense 
i  this  is  true.     Bach  was  unquestionably  a  more  spiritually 
I  minded,  or,  as  we  now  say,  a  more  religious  man  than 
I  Handel.     When    he  wrote   the   "  Sanctus "   he   was    rapt 
away  from  earth,  and  stood  in  spirit  among  the  harpers 
harping  with   their   harps   beside   the   sea   of  glass,  and 
joined  his  voice  to  theirs,     Handel's  feet  are  always  upon 
solid  earth.     His  imagination  opened  all  portals,  but  he 
passed  none.     When  he  wrote   the  "  Hallelujah "  chorus 
he  "  did  think  he  saw  heaven  opened  and  the  great  God 
Himself,"  but  he  was  not,  like  Bach,  caught  up  in  spirit 
to   the   heaven    that   he   beheld.     Handel  was   an   artist 
rather  than  a  seer.     While  Bach  was  in  the  midst  of  his 


own  imaginings,  Handel  contemplated  the  beatific  vision 
from  afar.  The  method  of  the  one  was  subjective,  of 
the  other  objective.  Thus,  in  a  word,  must  The  Messiah 
as  a  whole  be  judged.  It  is  a  work  of  pure  imagination, 
and  to  pretend  that  it  is  a  record  of  Handel's  private 
emotions  is  to  misunderstand  both  the  man  and  his 
genius.  There  was  a  good  deal  more  of  Titian  than  of 
Fra  Angelico  in  Handel.  For  the  rapture  of  spiritual 
ecstasy  that  animates  the  work  of  the  pious  Frate  we 
ask  of  Handel  in  vain,  but  instead  he  gives  us  an  all- 
embracing  sympathy  for  every  manifestation  of  human 
energy,  that  lifts  his  work  far  above  sects  and  dogmas 
and  makes  it  the  common  property  of  all  mankind. 


THE  production  of  The  Messiah  was  a  turning-point 
in  Handel's  career  as  a  composer  of  oratorios. 
It  marks  the  close  of  what  we  may  call  his  first  or  ex- 
perimental period.  Handel's  first  six  oratorios  all  differ 
markedly  in  form.  He  seems  to  have  been  conducting 
a  series  of  experiments,  without  being  able  to  make  up 
his  mind  as  to  which  form  of  oratorio  was  best  suited 
to  his  genius.  Esther  was  originally  a  masque,  frankly 
intended  for  theatrical  performance,  though  its  revision 
in  1734  naturally  brought  it  more  into  the  shape  of 
oratorio.  Deborah  is  an  epic  pure  and  simple.  In 
Athaliah  there  is  a  return  to  the  dramatic  style,  which 
is  carried  still  further  in  Saul.  Israel  and  Tlie  Messiah, 
on  the  other  hand,  are  more  definitely  epical  in  treatment 
than  Deborah.  With  The  Messiah  Handel's  experiments 
ceased.  After  producing  his  two  epical  masterpieces 
he  returned  to  the  dramatic  style  of  Satil,  to  which 
he  adhered  for  the  rest  of  his  life.  The  reason  for 
his  decision  is  not  far  to  seek.  Handel  was  eminently 
practical,  and  his  decision  to  abandon  the  purely  epical 
style  was  probably  due  in  great  measure  to  the  com- 
parative failure  of  Israel  and,  in  England  if  not  in  Ireland, 
of  The  Messiah.      Within  due  limits,  he  was  fully  alive 


to  the  wisdom  of  consulting  popular  taste,  and  doubtless 
he  recognised  as  clearly  as  his  audiences  that  the  emotions 
of  human  beings,  of  like  passions  with  ourselves,  were  a 
good  deal  more  interesting  as  a  subject  for  artistic  treat- 
ment than  abstract  discussions  of  the  dogmas  of  theology. 
At  any  rate,    for  the  rest  of  his   life  he  made  no  more 
excursions  into   purely  epical    oratorio.     The   form  that 
he   finally  adopted   has    a   good    deal    in    common  with 
Greek  tragedy.     The  attitude  and  functions  of  the  chorus 
are  those  of  interested  and    sympathetic  spectators  who 
rarely  if  ever  take  part  in  the  action,  but  punctuate  the 
various  scenes  with  choral  odes  of  a  meditative  or  gnomic 
cast,  often  deducing  a  wholesome  moral  from  the  events 
enacted  before  their  eyes.     The  long  set  speeches  which 
are  so  important  a  feature  of  the  Greek  drama  correspond 
more  or  less  accurately  to  the  stately  airs  of  Handelian 
oratorio,  while  the  more  rapid  dialogue  or  stichomythia 
is  represented    by  recitative.     Samson,  founded    as    it  is 
upon  Milton's    Sajfison   Agonistes,  which  was  written  in 
avowed  imitation  of  an  Athenian  tragedy,  is  a  particularly 
fine   instance   of  the   oratorio-form    that    Handel  finally 
accepted.     In  dignity  of  style  it  yields  to  none  of  Handel's 
works,  while  its  dramatic  power  and  the  striking  contrasts 
of  character  in  which  it  abounds  give  it  a  human  interest 
which  is  necessarily  absent  from  the  works  conceived  in 
a  more  abstract  vein.     Newburgh  Hamilton's  libretto  is 
a   more   than   tolerable    piece    of  work.     He   knew   his 
Milton    well,  and   besides    making   free   use   of  Samson 
Agonistes,  he  levied  occasional  contributions  upon  several 
of   Milton's  other   poems,  including  the    Odes  "  On  the 
Nativity,"  "  On  the  Passion,"  "On  Time,"  and  "At  a  solemn 
Musick,"  the  "  Epitaph  on  the  Marchioness  of  Winchester," 
and  the  translations  of  the  Psalms.     The  result  is  a  rather 

304  HANDEL 

surprising  piece  of  patchwork,  in  which  Hamilton's  very- 
prosaic  muse  cuts  a  poor  figure  in  her  august  company, 
though  the  pedestrian  numbers  of  the  poetaster  are  to 
some  extent  atoned  for  by  the  skill  with  which  the 
libretto  is  put  together.  A  skilful  piece  of  work  it 
unquestionably  is,  and  it  is  to  be  believed  that  Handel 
turned  with  no  little  satisfaction  from  the  austere  abstrac- 
tion of  TJie  Messiah  to  the  varied  passions  and  pulsing  life 
of  Samson.  What  we  may  call  the  background  of  the 
work,  the  contrast  between  the  idolatrous  frivolities  of 
heathendom  and  the  august  solemnity  of  the  worship  of 
the  one  true  God,  was  often  treated  by  Handel,  but 
never  with  more  consummate  skill  than  in  Samson.  The 
Philistine  revels  are  painted  in  the  most  glowing  colours 
and  with  a  special  touch  of  light-hearted  and  almost 
childlike  gaiety  that  differentiates  them  from  Handel's 
other  excursions  into  the  high  places  of  paganism.  In 
striking  contrast  are  the  nobly  dignified  choruses  allotted 
to  the  Israelites,  which  are  very  far  from  being  the 
merely  conventional  expressions  of  respectable  piety  to 
which  in  his  later  oratorios  Handel  sometimes  con- 
descended. On  the  contrary,  many  of  them  have  a 
character  peculiarly  their  own — a  kind  of  rapturous 
exaltation  which  is  very  difficult  to  define  in  words. 
This  quality  I  find  particularly  in  the  closing  chorus, 
**  Let  their  celestial  concerts  all  unite,"  which,  beginning 
rather  dully,  seems  midway  to  be  touched  by  some 
divine  fire  and  to  be  uplifted  into  strange  regions  of 
spiritual  ecstasy,  and  still  more  markedly  in  "Then  round 
about  the  starry  throne,"  a  chorus  on  which,  if  I  were 
condemned  to  the  extremely  difficult  and  unsatisfactory 
task  of  picking  out  one  thing  of  Handel's  as  superior  to 
all  else,  my  choice,  would,  I  think,  alight.     Samson  is,  I 


think,  the  most  personal  of  Handel's  oratorios,  that  of 
which  the  subject  appealed  most  strongly  to  him,  and 
into  which  he  put  most  of  himself.  It  is  not  so  much 
that  his  own  life  was  one  long  war  against  Philistines,  or 
that  he  shared  the  hero's  bodily  affliction,  though  it  is 
quite  possible  that  at  the  time  when  he  was  writing 
Samson  he  may  have  had  premonitory  symptoms  of  his 
approaching  blindness.  The  reason  I  believe,  at  the  risk 
of  being  thought  fanciful,  to  lie  at  the  roots  of  Handel's 
character.  We  know  but  little  of  Handel's  private  life, 
but  everything  that  has  been  handed  down  with  regard 
to  it  points  to  his  having  been  a  man  of  singular  personal 
purity.  In  his  time  obscenity  of  language  and  unchastity 
of  life  were  regarded  as  the  most  venial  of  sins,  but  from 
the  typical  faults  of  the  age  Handel  was  entirely  free,  and 
the  disgust  with  which  he  regarded  the  sensuality  that  he 
saw  rampant  around  him  is,  I  think,  to  be  read  in  Samson 
by  those  that  have  eyes  to  see.  I  have  already  pointed 
out  how  fond  Handel  was  of  fixing  on  a  word  or  a  phrase 
and  making  it  the  text  on  which  to  ground  a  discourse. 
In  "  Then  round  about  the  starry  throne  "  he  seizes  upon 
the  words,  "  from  all  this  earthly  grossness  quit,"  and 
turning  as  it  were  with  loathing  from  the  sordid  and 
sensual  amours  of  Samson  and  Delilah,  he  lifts  his  voice 
in  a  triumphant  paean  in  praise  of  chastity.  It  is  difficult 
to  describe  the  extraordinary  ecstasy  of  this  chorus.  The 
music  seems  to  glow  with  a  white  heat  of  rapture.  There 
is  nothing  else  like  it  in  Handel,  nor  indeed  in  any  one 
else.  But  the  interest  of  Samson  is  far  from  ending  here. 
The  various  characters  of  the  drama  are  sketched  with 
a  masterly  touch.  Samson,  the  blind  hero,  is  probably 
the  most  carefully  studied  figure  in  the  whole  range  of 
Handel's  oratorios.  In  him  pathos  and  dignity  are 

306  HANDEL 

mingled  with  an  art  that  is  beyond  praise,  and  the  flashes 
of  the  old  fire  that  leap  up  from  the  ashes  of  despair  give 
a  wonderfully  vivid  touch  to  the  character. 

Micah,  a  figment  of  the  librettist,  is  merely  an  excuse 
for  the  contralto  solos,  but  the  other  personages  are  all 
happily  drawn.  Delilah,  with  her  false  beguiling,  forms 
an  admirable  foil  to  the  reverend  figure  of  Manoah,  whose 
music  is  a  shining  example  of  Handel's  unequalled 
appreciation  of  the  majesty  and  pathos  of  old  age.  The 
bitterness  of  unavailing  sorrow  was  never  set  to  more 
piteous  accents  than  the  close  of  the  air,  "  Thy  glorious 
deeds,"  nor  has  the  tender  sympathy  of  a  father's  love 
ever  found  truer  or  moving  expression  than  in  the 
beautiful  "  How  willing  my  paternal  love."  In  a  very 
different  vein  is  the  masterly  sketch  of  the  Philistine 
giant  Harapha,  whose  braggart  cowardice  is  drawn  with 
amazing  boldness  and  vigour  in  the  famous  air,  "  Honour 
and  arms." 

Samson  is  more  familiar  to  modern  hearers  than  the 
majority  of  Handel's  oratorios,  but  students  should  be 
warned  that  the  abbreviated  version  now  usually  per- 
formed not  only  omits  a  great  deal  of  fine  music,  but  is 
arranged  in  a  very  happy-go-lucky  manner,  indeed  the 
effect  of  several  scenes  is  seriously  marred  by  remorseless 
mutilation.  Thus  the  omission  of  the  solo,  "  To  song  and 
dance,"  deprives  the  ensuing  chorus  of  much  of  its  mean- 
ing, and  the  disappearance  of  the  recitatives  in  the 
marvellous  funeral  scene  at  the  close  of  the  work,  a 
masterpiece  second  only  to  the  corresponding  section  of 
Saul,  obscures  Handel's  carefully  studied  design,  and,  by 
omitting  what  we  may  call  the  stage-directions,  robs  the 
scene  of  much  of  its  picturesqueness. 

The  victory  of  Dettingen   in    1743   drew  Handel   for 


the  moment  from  his  oratorios.  The  Te  Deuni  and 
Anthem  that  he  wrote  to  celebrate  the  triumphs  of 
George  11.  are  in  the  sonorous  and  splendid  manner  of 
his  earlier  Coronation  anthems.  The  Te  Deum  in 
particular  was  extravagantly  admired  and  praised  during 
Handel's  lifetime,  and  in  public  estimation  it  took  the 
place  till  then  held  by  the  Te  Detim  that  he  had  written 
in  honour  of  the  Peace  of  Utrecht  thirty  years  before. 
Its  pomp  and  glitter  are  now  a  little  tarnished  by  time 
but  it  remains  a  fine  specimen  of  ringing  Handelian 

Semele,  Handel's  next  work,  carried  him  to  very 
different  fields.  Congreve's  libretto  had  been  published 
in  1720,  described  as  an  opera,  but  there  seems  no 
reason  to  suppose  that  Handel  intended  his  work  for 
stage  performance.  In  Semele  he  put  off  to  a  great  extent 
his  "  big  bow-wow  "  manner,  and  produced  a  work  which 
has  a  good  deal  more  in  common  with  Acis  and  Galatea 
than  with  any  of  the  sacred  or  semi-sacred  oratorios.  There 
is  the  same  lightness  of  touch,  the  same  ease  and  gaiety 
of  inspiration,  and  the  same  sunny  background  of  the 
fresh,  laughing,  pagan  life  of  old  Greece.  The  choruses 
are  as  a  rule  slighter  in  construction  than  was  Handel's 
wont,  and  many  of  them  are  founded  upon  sparkling 
dance  measures.  The  ravishing  love-chorus,  "  Now  Love, 
that  everlasting  boy,"  is  described  as  alia  Hornpipe,  and 
"  Endless  pleasure "  is  a  lively  gavotte.  There  is  not 
much  scope  for  characterisation  in  Semele.  Juno  is  un- 
questionably the  most  striking  figure  in  the  work.  Her 
jealous  fury  is  painted  in  vivid  colours,  and  her  spiteful 
little  air,  "  Above  measure,"  gives  a  deliciously  feminine 
touch  to  her  grim  personality.  The  other  characters — 
the  amorous  Jupiter,  the  voluptuous  Semele,  and  a  host 

3o8  HANDEL 

of  minor  figures — are  less  interesting  on  the  whole,  but 
the  music  of  the  drowsy  god  Somnus  is  very  beautiful, 
and  indeed  Semele  is  full  of  charming  songs,  many  of 
which,  such  as  Semele's  "  O  sleep,  why  dost  thou  leave 
me,"  and  Jupiter's  "  Where'er  you  walk,"  are  still  famous. 
The  score  of  Semele  contains  many  of  Handel's 
characteristically  picturesque  touches.  The  storm  chorus, 
"  Avert  these  omens,"  is  a  brilliant  piece  of  descriptive 
writing,  and  in  another  chorus  later  in  the  work  the 
curiously  realistic  setting  of  the  words,  "  All  our  boasted 
fire  is  lost  in  smoke,"  is  very  interesting.  One  of  the 
entr'actes  paints  the  sleep  of  Somnus  effectively,  and 
another  gives  a  vivid  picture  of  Juno's  flight  from  Samos, 
while  the  passage  for  drums  illustrating  Jupiter's  oath 
gives  the  lie  to  the  often  -  repeated  statement  that 
Beethoven  was  the  first  to  raise  the  drum  to  the  rank 
of  a  solo  instrument. 

It  is  easy  to  believe  that  so  whole-hearted  a  pagan  as 
Handel  enjoyed  to  the  full  the  momentary  escape  that 
Semele  gave  him  from  sacred  subjects,  and  that  he  returned 
to  oratorio  with  no  very  great  gusto.  At  any  xdle,  Joseph  is 
one  of  his  least  inspired  efforts.  To  the  present  generation 
it  is  almost  entirely  unknown.  It  is  the  only  one  of  Handel's 
oratorios  that  has  never  been  published  in  vocal  score, 
and  though  it  is  said  to  have  been  repeatedly  performed 
in  Berlin  during  the  nineteenth  century,  there  is  no  record 
of  it  having  been  given  publicly  in  England  since  the 
death  of  the  composer,  though  the  fine  chorus,  "  Blest  be 
the  man,"  has  been  heard  more  than  once  at  the  Handel 
Festival.  The  greater  part  of  the  music  scarcely  leaves 
the  conventional  track  which  Handel  was  now  beginning 
to  tread  with  somewhat  mechanical  steps,  yet  Joseph 
has   its   fine  moments.     There    are    several    choruses   of 


majestic  dignity,  and  the  wedding  music  is  appropriately 
festive  and  jubilant.  Here  and  there,  too,  occur  gems  of 
melody  in  Handel's  freshest  manner,  such  as  the  exquisite 
pastoral,  "  The  peasant  tastes  the  sweets  of  life,"  and  the 
graceful  duet,  "  What's  sweeter  than  a  new-blown  rose." 
But  the  finest  music  in  JosepJi  is  concerned  with  the 
erring  brothers.  The  guilty  Simeon  has  a  splendidly 
dramatic  scena,  and  the  recognition  scene  is  handled  with 
a  masterly  touch.  But  as  a  whole  Joseph  is  scarcely 
worthy  of  the  hand  that  a  few  years  before  had  written 

The  success  of  Scinele  tempted  Handel  to  turn  once 
more  to  Greek  mythology,  and  his  next  work  was 
Hercules,  an  adaptation  by  Thomas  Broughton  of 
Sophocles's  noble  traged}-,  Tlie  Women  of  Trachis. 
Hercules  stands  in  the  front  rank  of  Handel's  works.  In 
dramatic  power  and  masterly  handling  of  character  it 
is  inferior  to  nothing  that  he  wrote.  In  style  it  leans  to 
opera  rather  than  to  oratorio.  The  choruses  are  com- 
paratively few,  and  though  striking  in  their  kind  depart 
widely  as  a  rule  from  the  accepted  oratorio  standard. 
The  most  remarkable  of  them  are  "  Jealousy,  infernal 
pest,"  a  curious  study  in  musical  psychology,  and  the 
love-chorus,  "  Wanton  God  of  amorous  fire,"  which,  though 
perhaps  less  engaging  than  the  delicious  "  Now  Love, 
that  everlasting  boy"  in  Seniele,  proves  up  to  the  hilt 
that  Handel,  old  bachelor  as  he  was,  knew  uncommonly 
well  what  he  was  writing  about.^ 

^  In  Samuel  Butler's  notebooks  there  is  a  characteristic  comment  on  the 
chorus,  "Tyrants  now  no  more  shall  dread,"  sung  when  the  news  of 
Hercules's  death  is  announced,  which  I  venture  to  quote:  "The  music  to 
this  chorus  is  written  from  the  tyrants'  point  of  view.  This  is  plain  from 
the  jubilant  defiance  with  which  the  chorus  opens,  but  becomes  still  plainer 
when  the  magnificent  strain  to  which  he  has  set  the  words,    'all  fear  of 

310  HANDEL 

But  it  is  in  the  solo  music  that  the  real  strength  of 
Hercules  lies.     The  character  of  Dejanira  is  elaborated 
with   equal   vigour  and   subtlety.     Her   changing  moods 
are  mirrored  in  music  that  gives  its  true  value  to  every 
nuance  of  feeling.     We  see  her  first  lamenting  the  absence 
of  her  lord  in  the  pathetic  air,  "The  world,  when  day's 
career  is  done,"  a  melody  of  yearning  beauty  to  which 
strange  harmonies  give  an  added  poignancy.     The  news 
of  Hercules's  approach  banishes  her  sorrow,  and  her  new- 
found happiness  breaks  forth  in  the  light-hearted  strains 
of  "  Begone,    my   fears."      The   arrival   of   Hercules,  ac- 
companied by  the  captive  princess  lole,  sows  the   seeds 
of  jealousy  in  Dejanira's  bosom.     Then  follows  an  inter- 
punishment  is  o'er,'  bursts  upon  us.     Here  he  flings  aside  all  considerations 
save  that  of  the  gospel  of  doing  whatever  we  please  without  having  to  pay 
for   it.     He    remembers    himself,    however,    shortly,    and    becomes   almost 
puritanical  over  '  The  world's  avenger  is  no  more.'     Here  he  is  quite  proper. 
From  a  dramatic  point  of  view  Handel's  treatment  of  these  words  must  be 
condemned  for  reasons  in  respect  of  which   Handel  is  rarely  at  fault.     It 
puzzles  the  listener,  who  expects  the  words  to  be  treated  from  the  point  of 
view  of  the  vanquished  slaves,  not  from  that  of  the  tyrants.     There  is  no 
pretence  that  those  particular  tyrants  are  not  so  bad  as  ordinary  tyrants,  nor 
those  particular  vanquished  slaves  not  so  good  as  ordinary  vanquished  slaves, 
and  unless   this   has  been  made  clear  in  some  way  it  is    dramatically  de 
rigueur  that  the  tyrants  should  come  to  grief,  or  be  about  to  come  to  grief. 
The  hearer  should  know  which  way  his  sympathies  are  expected  to  go,  and 
here  we  have  the  music  dragging  one  way  and  the  words  the  other. 

' '  Nevertheless  we  pardon  the  departure  from  the  strict  rules  of  the  game, 
partly  because  of  the  welcome  nature  of  good  tidings  so  exultantly 
announced  to  us  about  all  fear  of  punishment  being  over,  and  partly  because 
throughout  the  music  is  so  much  stronger  than  the  words  that  we  lose  sight 
of  them  almost  entirely.  Handel  probably  wrote  as  he  did  from  a  profound, 
though  perhaps  unconscious,  perception  of  the  fact  that  even  in  his  day 
there  was  a  great  deal  of  humanitarian  nonsense  talked,  and  that  after  all 
the  tyrants  were  generally  quite  as  good  sort  of  people  as  the  vanquished 
slaves.  Having  begun  on  this  tack,  it  was  easy  to  throw  morality  to  the 
winds  when  he  came  to  the  words,  '  all  fear  of  punishment  is  o'er.' " 


view  with  lole,  culminating  in  the  bitter  irony  of  "  When 
beauty  sorrow's  livery  wears."  Later  comes  a  long  and 
carefully  wrought  scene  with  Hercules  opening  with  a 
masterly  song,  "  Resign  thy  club,"  the  biting  sarcasm  of 
which  is  set  to  music  of  extraordinary  force,  and  lead- 
ing into  the  wonderful  lament,  "  Cease,  ruler  of  the 
day,  to  shine,"  which  paints  the  anguish  of  a  wounded 
heart  in  the  most  moving  colours.  But  all  else 
pales  before  the  tremendous  closing  scena,  "  Where  shall 
I  fly  ? "  in  which  the  wretched  woman,  torn  by  terror 
and  remorse,  strives  to  hide  her  guilty  head  from  the 
vengeful  Furies  that  encompass  her.  The  concentrated 
horror  of  this  passage,  wrought  as  it  is  to  a  climax  of 
amazing  power,  can  hardly  be  paralleled  in  the  whole 
range  of  Handel's  works.  By  the  side  of  Dejanira  the 
other  characters  of  the  drama  sink  into  comparative 
insignificance.  Hercules,  a  typical  hero,  bluff  and  beefy, 
is  only  interesting  in  his  final  agony,  which  is  a  page  of 
poignant  drama.  The  gentle  lole  forms  a  graceful  foil 
to  the  passion-tossed  Dejanira.  Though  sketched  with  a 
light  touch  she  is  far  from  being  a  merely  colourless 
ingenue.  Her  beautiful  air,  "  My  father,"  has  power  as 
well  as  pathos,  while  the  scene  in  which  she  "  chaffs " 
Hyllus  is  delightfully  arch  and  vivacious.  Exquisite,  too, 
is  the  air,  "  My  breast  with  tender  pity  swells,"  in  which 
she  endeavours  to  calm  the  frenzy  of  the  stricken 
Dejanira.  After  the  wild  ravings  of  the  guilty  princess, 
the  suave  accents  of  lole  fall  like  balm  upon  the  ear. 
The  contrast  is  one  of  a  kind  in  which  Handel  specially 
delighted,  and  he  has  here  treated  it  with  a  magical 
touch ;  but  Hercules  is  throughout  full  of  Handel's  finest 
workmanship,  and  it  is  curious  that  it  should  be 
so   little   known.     Present-day   critics,   who    are    always 

3 1 2  HANDEL 

on  the  look  out  for  "  modern  "  effects  in  the  works  of 
the  classical  masters,  would  find  much  in  He^xides  to 
interest  them.  In  particular,  it  is  worth  while  to  call 
attention  to  the  curious  little  symphony  that  precedes 
the  third  act,  a  piece  of  primitive  programme  music 
describing  the  agony  of  Hercules  in  the  most  realistic 

With  Belshazsar  Handel  returned  once  more  to  the 
Old  Testament  and  his  trusty  Jennens.  Belshazzar  is  in 
his  stateliest  style,  abounding  in  fully  developed  choruses, 
and  trusting  but  little  to  dramatic  interest  or  play  of 
character.  Of  its  kind  it  is  a  fine  example.  Handel 
rarely  surpassed  the  massive  grandeur  of  such  choruses 
as  "  By  slow  degrees  the  wrath  of  God,"  "  See  from  his 
post  Euphrates  flies,"  and  "  Sing,  O  heavens,"  to  name 
but  a  few  out  of  many.  In  a  very  different  vein  is  the 
mocking  chorus  of  Babylonians,  who  from  the  height  of 
their  impregnable  walls  deride  the  vain  efforts  of  the 
besiegers  below — a  passage  brimming  over  with  that 
peculiarly  ironic  humour  which  was  characteristic  of 
Handel.  Admirable,  too,  is  the  whole  scene  of  Belshazzar's 
feast,  the  insolent  arrogance  of  the  king,  the  drunken 
chorus  of  his  lords — one  of  the  most  "  unbuttoned " 
things  Handel  ever  wrote,  and  full  of  effects  that  nobody 
would  dream  of  looking  for  in  eighteenth-century  music 
— and  finally  the  apparition  of  the  hand  and  the  writing 
on  the  wall.  This  incident  is  treated  with  remarkable 
power,  the  terrified  cries  of  the  king,  the  broken  utterances 
of  the  chorus,  and  the  curiously  descriptive  orchestration 
all  contributing  to  the  general  effect.  There  are  many 
other  interesting  points  in  Belshazzar.  Some  of  the  solos 
are  in  Handel's  finest  manner,  notably  the  solemn  "  Great 
God,    who    yet    but     darkly    known,"    which    in    some 


mysterious  way  conveys  an  impression  of  the  awe  felt  by 
a  heathen  in  the  presence  of  an  unknown  God,  and  the 
splendid  accompanied  recitative,  "  Thus  saith  the  Lord," 
a  particularly  fine  instance  of  Handel's  employment  of  a 
ground-bass,  not,  as  was  so  often  the  case  in  Purcell's 
time,  merely  as  an  excuse  for  a  meaningless  display  of 
musical  ingenuity,  but  for  the  purpose  of  expressing 
a  definite  poetical  idea,  in  this  case  the  sureness  of 
the  Divine  support.  I  must  not  forget  the  overture, 
a  very  fine  piece  of  programme  music,  painting  in 
the  most  picturesque  and  forcible  manner  the  contrast 
between  the  wild  turbulence  of  the  heathen  and  the 
steady  faith  of  the  worshippers  of  God ;  nor  the 
curious  little  instrumental  movement,  marked  in  the 
autograph  as  "  Allegro  postilions,"  which  describes  Bel- 
shazzar's  messengers  riding  off  post-haste  in  search  of 
the  wise  men  who  were  to  interpret  the  writing  on  the 

The  Occasional  Oratorio^  hastily  put  together  to 
celebrate  the  repulse  of  the  Young  Pretender,  can  hardly 
be  classed  as  an  oratorio  in  the  ordinary  sense  of  the 
word.  It  is  rather  an  anthem  on  an  unusually  extended 
scale,  being  nothing  but  a  string  of  texts  from  the  Psalms 
interspersed  with  songs,  and  boasting  only  the  most 
shadowy  apology  for  a  design.  Handel  used  a  good  deal 
of  old  music  in  it,  and  of  the  new  numbers  hardly  one 
reaches  his  best  standard,  except  perhaps  the  famous 
overture,  which  through  its  stirring  march  has  become 
familiar  to  many  who  have  but  the  vaguest  idea  what  the 
occasion  was  that  called  it  forth.  Handel  is  usually 
supposed  to  have  lived  before  the  days  of  "  local  colour," 
but  in  one  of  the  songs  in  the  Occasional  Oratorio^  "  When 
warlike  ensigns  wave  on  high,"  there  occurs  what  looks 

314  HANDEL 

suspiciously  like  an  imitation  of  the  bagpipes,  illustrating 

the  words : — 

"  The  frighted  peasant  sees  his  field 
For  corn  an  iron  harvest  yield  ; 
No  pasture  now  the  plains  afford, 
And  scythes  are  straightened  into  swords," 

which  very  possibly  may  be  intended  as  a  sly  reference 
to  Prince  Charlie's  southern  march,  and  to  the  apparition 
of  the  Highland  clansmen  in  the  fertile  meadows  of  the 

Jjidas  MaccahcBus  was  in  every  way  a  nobler  tribute 
to  the  victor  of  Culloden  than  the  Occasional  Oratoj^io. 
Its  martial  ardour  has  endeared  it  to  many  generations 
of  Englishmen,  and  it  is  still  one  of  the  most  popular  of 
Handel's  oratorios.  This,  however,  is  by  no  means  the 
same  as  saying  that  it  is  one  of  the  best.  As  a  matter  of 
fact  it  is  inferior  to  many  far  less  famous  works.  It  is 
totally  devoid  of  anything  like  characterisation,  and  its 
subject  ties  it  down  to  the  expression  of  none  but  the 
simplest  emotions  of  joy  and  grief,  so  that  with  all  its 
directness  and  vigour  it  tends  decidedly  to  monotony. 
What  is  worse  is,  that  in  Judas,  more  than  in  any  of  his 
other  oratorios,  Handel  lies  open  to  the  charge  of  writing 
clap-trap.  There  are  magnificent  things  scattered  over 
the  score  of  Judas,  superb  choruses  like  "  We  never  will 
bow  down,"  "  Fall'n  is  the  foe,"  and  "  Sion  now  her  head 
shall  raise,"  and  a  few  solo  numbers  of  rare  beauty,  such 
as  "  Pious  orgies  "  and  "  O  lovely  peace,"  but  there  is  far 
too  much  music  of  the  type  of  "  Sound  an  alarm,"  and 
"  The  Lord  worketh  wonders,"  for  which  the  best  that 
can  be  said  is  that  their  energy  makes  some  amends  for 
lack  of  inspiration. 

Handel  himself  seems  to  have  been  fully  alive  to  the 


inferiority  of  Judas.  His  observation  upon  "  See  the 
conquering  hero  comes"  (though  this  was  subsequently 
borrowed  from  Joshua)  has  already  been  quoted,  and  a 
further  record  has  been  preserved  which  amounts  to  a 
practical  confession  that  he  was  guilty  of  writing  down  to 
the  level  of  an  uneducated  taste  :  "  A  gentleman  whom  he 
had  desired  to  look  over  Judas  MaccabcBus  having 
declared  his  opinion  of  it,  '  Well,'  said  Handel,  '  to  be 
sure  you  have  picked  out  the  best  songs,  but  you  take  no 
notice  of  that  which  is  to  get  me  all  the  money,'  meaning 
the  worst  in  the  whole  oratorio."  As  a  matter  of  fact, 
Handel  was  totally  lacking  in  the  false  pride  that  hinders 
a  man  from  admitting  his  failures  and  deficiencies.  He 
was  walking  one  day  in  Marylebone  Gardens  with  a 
reverend  friend  of  his,  named  Fountayne,  when  the  band 
struck  up  a  piece  of  music.  "  Come,  Mr.  Fountayne,"  said 
Handel,  "  let  us  sit  down  and  listen  to  this  piece ;  I  want 
to  know  your  opinion  of  it."  Down  they  sat,  and  after 
some  time  the  old  parson,  turning  to  his  companion,  said, 
"  It  is  not  worth  listening  to,  it  is  very  poor  stuff."  "  You 
are  right,  Mr.  Fountayne,"  said  Handel,  "  it  is  very  poor 
stuff.  I  thought  so  myself  when  I  had  finished  it."  The 
old  gentleman,  being  taken  by  surprise,  was  beginning  to 
apologise,  but  Handel  assured  him  there  was  no  neces- 
sity, for  the  music  was  really  bad,  having  been  com- 
posed hastily,  his  time  for  its  production  having  been 
limited,  and  that  the  opinion  given  was  as  correct  as  it 
was  honest.^  Handel,  on  the  other  hand,  was  ready  to 
fight  tooth  and  nail  against  what  he  thought  was  unin- 
telligent criticism.  One  day  his  librettist  Morell  com- 
plained that  the  music  of  one  of  Handel's  airs  did  not 
suit  his  words,  whereupon  Handel  flew  into  a  passion  and 

^  Smith,  History  of  the  Parish  of  Marylebone,  1833. 

3 1 6  HANDEL 

cried,  "  What,  you  teach  me  music !  The  music,  sir,  is 
good  music.  It  is  your  words  is  bad.  Hear  the  passage 
again.     There !  go  you  and  make  words  to  that  music." 

Alexander  Balus,  though  lacking  in  the  qualities  that 
captivate  the  vulgar  ear  in  Judas,  is  in  many  ways  a  more 
remarkable  work.     To  the  musician  indeed  and  to  the 
student  it  is  one  of  Handel's  most  interesting  compositions, 
for  the  Oriental  background  tempted  him  to  curious  ex- 
periments in  orchestration  which  often  yield  surprising 
results  in  the  way  of  local  colour.     The  libretto,  which 
deals  with  the  love  of  Alexander  Balus,  the  King  of  Syria, 
for  Cleopatra,  the  daughter  of  Ptolemy  Philometor,  who  is 
quite  a  different  person  from  the  "  Serpent  of  old  Nile," 
is  not  particularly  promising,  but   Handel  contrived  to 
infuse  a  good  deal  of  life  into  the  rather  spectral  characters. 
The   youthful     Alexander    has    some    charming    music, 
notably  the  delightful  "O   Mithra,"  one  of  the  freshest 
and  most  ardent  love-songs  ever  written,  with  a  curious 
pulsating  figure  in   the  accompaniment  which  seems  to 
indicate  the  haste   of  the  young  lover  in   flying  to  his 
mistress's   feet.     Cleopatra's   music   is   among  the   most 
original  that  Handel  ever  produced,  and  seems  to  belong 
to  a  totally  different  world   from   the  very  conventional 
and  commonplace  songs  in  Judas  Maccabcsus,     From  her 
opening  song,  "  Hark,  hark,  he  strikes  the  golden  lyre,"  to 
which  a  curiously  exotic  colour  is  given  by  an  accompani- 
ment of  flutes,  harp,  and  mandoline,  to  her  marvellous 
death-song,   "Convey  me   to   some   peaceful   shore" — so 
different  in  its  stoical  resignation,  illumined  by  no  gleam 
of  faith  in  a  hereafter,  from  the  rapture  of  exaltation  with 
which  a  Theodora  meets  her  doom — every  note  allotted 
to  Cleopatra  is  worth  careful  study.     One  of  her  loveliest 
passages  is  a  scene  in  the  woods,  in  which  her  reverie 


among  the  whispering  trees   and    murmuring   brooks  is 
interrupted  by  a  band  of  brigands  who  carry  her  off  into 
captivity,  her  wild  cries  for  help  dying  slowly  on  the  ear 
as  she  is  borne  away.     Singularly  beautiful,  too,  is  her 
marriage  duet  with  Alexander,  "  Hail,  wedded  love,"  which 
seems  to  breathe  a  strange  intensity  of  nuptial  fervour. 
The  other  characters  are  more  slightly  drawn,     Jonathan 
is  a  typical  Hebrew,  whose  music  is  solemn  and  dignified 
without   possessing   any   specially   definite   features,   but 
Ptolemy  is  cleverly  sketched.      There  is  all  the  smooth 
duplicity  of  an  Oriental  statesman  in  his  opening  song, 
though   later  he  shows  himself  in  his  true  colours,  and 
storms  and  threatens  in  the  accepted  tyrannical  manner. 
Few  of  the  choruses  are  in  Handel's  stately  big-wig  style. 
He  seems  to  have  felt  the  relief  of  getting  for  once  out  of 
his  pious  groove,  and  in  Alexander  Balus  his  heathen  are 
quite  as  fresh  and  vigorous  as  in   Samson.     There  is  a 
curiously  barbaric  ring  about  the  opening  chorus,  "  Flushed 
with  conquest,"  and  the  wedding  music  is  very  gay  and 
spirited.     The  finest  chorus  in  the  work,  however,  is  "  O 
calumny,"  which  is   dragged  in  by  the  hilt  a  propos  de 
bottes,  obviously  because  of  the  success  of  the  Envy  and 
Jealousy  choruses  in  Saul  and  Hercules  respectively,  but 
oddly  as  it  occurs  is  none  the  less  a  marvellous  piece  of 
writing,  weirdly  grim  and  gloomy  in  feeling,  and  altogether 
one  of  the  "  creepiest "  things  Handel  ever  wrote, 

Joshua  seems  to  have  been  an  attempt  to  repeat  the 
popular  success  oi  Judas  Maccabceus,  but  like  most  sequels  it 
fell  far  below  its  predecessor,  Judas^  with  all  its  faults,  was 
eminently  spirited  and  energetic,  hut  Joshua  is  depressingly 
flat  and  tame.  Here  and  there  occurs  a  touch  of  the  true 
Handelian  fire,  as  in  the  magnificent  chorus,  "  Glory  to 
God,"  in  which  the  tottering  towers  and  strong-cemented 

3 1 8  HANDEL 

walls  of  Jericho  tumble  to  dust  and  ruin,  and  the  amaz- 
ingly fresh  and  vigorous  "  See,  the  conquering  hero  comes," 
one  of  those  brave  immortal  things  upon  which  the  touch 
of  Time  is  powerless.  There  are  delicious  little  bits  of 
landscape-painting,  too,  in  Joshua,  such  as  Caleb's  song, 
"  Shall  I  in  Mamre's  fertile  plain  ?  "  with  its  wonderful 
suggestion  of  the  far-away  patriarchal  life  of  the  Old 
Testament,  or  the  pleasant  murmur  of  the  waters  in 
"  While  Kedron's  brook,"  and  the  cool  refreshing  showers 
in  "  As  cheers  the  sun."  But  some  of  the  best  songs  are 
transplanted  from  earlier  works.  "  O  had  I  Jubal's  lyre  " 
is  an  adaptation  of  a  song  in  a  setting  of  the  psalm 
Laudate  pueri,  dating  from  the  old  days  at  Halle,  and 
"  Heroes  when  with  glory  burning "  is  taken  from 
Agrippina.  On  the  whole,  Joshua  is  of  all  the  oratorios 
that  upon  which  the  lover  of  Handel  is  least  inclined  to 

If  the  flame  of  Handel's  inspiration  sank  rather  low 
m  Joshua,  it  burned  up  as  brightly  as  ever  in  Solomon  and 
Susanna.  Each  of  these  two  great  works  is  a  masterpiece 
in  its  way,  yet  there  is  hardly  a  point  of  resemblance 
between  them.  One  of  the  most  remarkable  examples 
of  Handel's  versatility  is  his  power  of  clothing  each  of 
his  great  choral  works  in  an  atmosphere  peculiar  to  itself, 
and  it  would  not  be  easy  to  find  better  instances  of  this 
than  are  afforded  by  Solomon  and  Susa?ina.  Solomon  is 
a  work  of  pomp  and  circumstance.  There  is  comparatively 
little  in  the  libretto  that  calls  for  emotional  power 
or  for  minute  character  -  drawing.  It  is  a  glitter- 
ing picture  of  the  gorgeous  court  of  the  Jewish 
monarch,  set  forth  in  a  series  of  choruses  of  superb 
breadth  and  grandeur.  The  music  breathes  of  splendour 
and  magnificence.     There  are  many  touches  in  the  oratorio 


to  relieve  what  might  otherwise  become  the  oppressive 
gorgeousness  of  the  general  texture  of  the  work.  There 
is  the  delicious  love-music,  and  one  would  have  to  ransack 
Handel's  works  to  find  a  tenderer  love-song  than  "  With 
thee  the  unsheltered  moor  I'd  tread,"  or  a  more  voluptuous 
chorus  than  "  May  no  rash  intruder."  Excellent,  too,  is 
the  incident  of  the  judgment  of  Solomon,  in  which  the 
characters  of  the  two  women  are  contrasted  with  the 
utmost  subtlety,  and  there  are  several  little  nature-pictures 
in  Handel's  daintiest  manner,  such  as  "  Beneath  the  vine 
and  fig-tree's  shade,"  and  "  How  green  our  fertile  pastures 
look,"  fragrant  with  the  charm  of  rippling  waters  and 
murmuring  breezes.  But  the  final  impression  of  the  work 
is  one  of  rich,  even  barbaric,  splendour.  It  is  like  a  series 
of  gorgeously  coloured  frescoes  in  some  wondrous  palace 
of  the  East. 

Susanna,  on  the  other  hand,  is  a  picture  of  village  life. 
It  is  painted  in  a  scheme  of  quietly  modulated  colours. 
Many  of  the  songs,  like  the  Purcellian  "  Ask  if  yon 
damask  rose  be  sweet,"  or  the  tender  little  love-ditty, 
"  Ye  verdant  hills,"  or,  most  beautiful  of  all,  the  deliciously 
tuneful  "  Would  custom  melt,"  have  almost  a  feeling  of 
folk-music.  The  action  of  the  story  takes  place  during 
the  captivity  of  the  Jews  in  Babylonia,  but  only  the 
opening  chorus,  written  on  what  is  practically  the  same 
ground-bass  as  that  used  by  Purcell  in  Dido's  death-song, 
and  by  Bach  in  the  "  Crucifixus  "  of  the  Mass  in  B  minor, 
suggests  anything  like  regret  for  a  lost  fatherland.  The 
music  for  the  most  part  is  designedly  simple  in  structure. 
Much  of  it  is  light,  and  at.  times  almost  humorous,  as  in 
the  pretty  little  chorus  in  which  the  village  gossips  discuss 
Susanna's  trial  among  themselves  in  whispered  chatter. 
The  last  chorus  again,  in  which  the  moral  of  the  story  is 

320  HANDEL 

set  forth  in  strains  of  enchanting  simpHcity,  might  well 
have  served  as  a  model  to  Mozart  when  he  wrote  the 
"  Vaudeville  "  at  the  end  of  his  Entfuhnmg  aus  dem  Serail. 
Yet  Susanna  has  its  grand  moments  as  well.  "  Righteous 
Heaven"  is  one  of  Handel's  most  stupendous  choruses, 
and  the  scene  between  Susanna  and  the  elders  is  treated 
with  much  dramatic  power.  The  elders  themselves  are 
cleverly  differentiated,  the  one  sly  and  sentimental  and 
the  other  violent  and  passionate,  and  Susanna's  character, 
rising  as  she  does  under  stress  of  circumstances  to  some- 
thing very  like  heroism,  is  drawn  with  consummate  art. 

Theodora  is  a  work  that  has  never  won  a  tithe  of 
the  consideration  that  it  deserves.  Handel  himself 
thought  very  highly  of  it,  and  it  is  plain  that  he  took 
unusual  pains  with  it,  and  was  proportionately  mortified 
at  its  want  of  success.  The  weak  point  of  Theodora  is  its 
dull  libretto,  one  of  Morell's  most  pedestrian  productions, 
which  all  Handel's  genius  hardly  sufficed  to  vitalise. 
The  characters  are  the  merest  pasteboard,  and  even 
Handel  could  not  turn  them  into  human  beings.  On 
Theodora  herself  he  expended  untold  pains.  Many  of  her 
airs  are  exceedingly  beautiful.  Some  of  them,  such  as 
the  great  prison-scene  with  its  curious  and  highly  original 
little  symphonies,  are  so  elaborate  as  to  suggest  to  certain 
critics  that  Handel  had  been  studying  Bach  before  writing 
Theodora.  Others,  like  "  Angels  ever  bright  and  fair,"  and 
*'  The  Pilgrim's  home,"  are  in  his  simplest  and  most 
melodious  manner,  but  the  result  somehow  leaves  one 
cold.  The  other  characters  are  no  less  carefully  treated — 
the  sympathetic  Irene  and  the  ardent  Didimus,  Valens  the 
black-hearted  tyrant,  and  Septimius,  the  "  friendly,  social  " 
pagan,  who  cannot  understand  why  people  worry  about 
religion    instead    of    enjoying    themselves.      The    music 


they  are  called  upon  to  sing  is  often  intrinsically  fine, 
but  one  and  all  they  are  merely  types ;  there  is  no  growth 
in  them,  and  they  are  just  the  same  at  the  close  of  the 
drama  as  at  the  beginning.  The  more  generalised 
emotions  of  the  chorus  gave  Handel  a  better  chance. 
Often  as  he  was  called  upon  to  set  heathen  ceremonial 
to  music,  he  never  repeated  himself,  and  in  Theodora  he 
reproduced  the  frozen  elegance  of  Roman  ritual  with 
signal  success.  The  very  Purcellian  "  Queen  of  Summer  " 
is  a  model  of  clear-cut  symmetry,  and  "  Venus  laughing 
from  the  skies  "  is  no  less  perfect  in  its  way  as  a  picture 
of  purely  soulless  religion.  Handel's  heathen  are 
invariably  so  delightful  that  his  Christians  (or  Jews)  are 
often  rather  cast  into  the  shade,  but  in  TJieodo7'a  they 
are  very  well  treated.  "  He  saw  the  lovely  youth,"  which 
the  composer  ranked  above  the  Hallelujah  chorus  in  The 
Messiah,  is  one  of  Handel's  masterpieces,  designed  with 
graphic  decision,  and  elaborated  with  loving  skill.  Very 
remarkable,  too,  with  its  atmosphere  of  brooding  mystery, 
is  "  How  strange  their  ends,"  while  the  closing  chorus, 
so  different  in  spirit  from  the  usual  jubilant  oratorio  finale, 
keeps  up  to  the  end  the  air  of  peculiar  distinction  which 
is  the  special  property  of  Theodora.  In  this  there  is  a 
wonderfully  characteristic  Handelian  touch  in  the  sudden 
burst  of  exaltation  at  the  words,  "  That  we  the  glorious 
spring  may  know,"  which  seems  like  the  sun  breaking 
forth  at  noonday  to  dispel  the  mists  of  melancholy  that 
gather  round  the  sombre  opening  of  the  chorus. 

The  "  musical  interlude,"  The  Choice  of  Hercules,  was 
written  with  the  eminently  practical  object  of  filling  up 
the  evening's  programme,  of  which  the  remainder  was 
supplied  by  Alexander's  Feast.  In  it  Handel  used  up  a 
great  deal  of  the  incidental  music  that  he  had  composed 

322  HANDEL 

a  few  months  before  for  Smollett's  Alceste.  It  is  one 
of  the  least  known  of  his  choral  works,  and  though  the 
Alceste  music  has  been  performed  in  recent  years  by  the 
Handel  Society,  TJie  Choice  of  Hercules  is  still  buried  in 
undeserved  oblivion.  It  contains  several  lovely  songs 
and  one  really  magnificent  chorus,  "  Virtue  shall  place 
thee  in  that  blest  abode,"  which  alone  should  recommend 
the  work  to  musicians. 

Jephtha  worthily  closed  the  long  series  of  Handel's 
oratorios.  It  is,  in  a  sense,  the  summing-up  of  his  career, 
exhibiting  as  it  does  to  a  great  extent  in  its  own  compass 
the  diverse  merits  that  characterise  its  various  pre- 
decessors. Many  of  the  airs  in  Jephtha  have  the  freshness 
and  sparkle  of  Handel's  early  youth,  and  some  of  its 
choruses  emulate  the  stupendous  majesty  of  Israel  in 
Egypt  and  Solomo7z,  while  in  psychological  subtlety  and 
fineness  of  character-drawing  Jephtha  is  on  a  level  with 
Samson.  Long  experience  had  by  this  time  given 
Handel  an  extraordinary  certainty  of  touch,  and  the  big 
effects  in  Jephtha  "  come  off"  with  a  sort  of  Nasmyth- 
hammerlike  inevitability.  Perhaps  it  would  be  hyper- 
critical to  say  that  this  very  certainty  of  touch  occasionally 
gives  an  impression  of  something  that  might  be  called 
mechanical,  but  on  the  other  hand  there  are  many  traces 
in  Jephtha  of  a  romantic  feeling  which  is  rarely  met  with 
in  the  work  of  a  composer  nearly  seventy  years  of  age. 
The  subject  of  Jephtha  is  one  of  the  most  striking  that 
Handel  ever  undertook ;  it  is  only  unfortunate  that  the 
librettist,  in  deference  to  the  fashion  of  the  time,  thought 
it  necessary  to  introduce  a  foolish  and  quite  superfluous 
love-interest,  which  adds  nothing  to  the  pathos  of  the 
situation,  and  obscures  the  main  outline  of  the  tragedy. 
Jephtha   is   one   of  Handel's   most   equal    and   sustained 


works.  There  are  very  few  of  those  lapses  into  fluent 
commonplace  which  disfigure  some  of  its  predecessors. 
The  choruses  are  exceptionally  strong.  The  Moloch 
chorus  at  the  beginning,  with  its  "dismal  dance  around 
the  furnace  blue,"  is  a  particularly  vivid  musical  picture 
of  heathendom,  while  for  sheer  picturesqueness  Handel 
never  surpassed  his  great  seascape, "  When  His  loud  voice 
in  thunder  spoke,"  with  its  boisterous  surges  and  lashing 
billows.  "  How  dark,  O  Lord,  are  Thy  decrees,"  is  a 
masterpiece  of  solemn  grandeur,  and  "  Cherub  and 
seraphim "  soars  to  unaccustomed  heights  of  pure 
romance.  The  solo  music  is  even  more  interesting. 
Each  one  of  the  characters,  save  the  intrusive  Hamor, 
who  has  really  nothing  to  do  with  the  plot,  is  elaborated 
with  the  most  loving  care.  Particularly  striking  is  the 
manner  in  which  the  development  of  the  character  of 
I  phis,  as  the  librettist  .  chose  to  christen  Jephtha's 
daughter,  is  indicated.  We  see  her  first  as  a  light-hearted 
girl,  whose  youthful  gaiety  finds  charming  expression  in 
the  pretty  Bourree,  "  The  smiling  dawn."  Misfortune 
brings  out  the  true  nobility  of  her  character.  Resigna- 
tion to  the  will  of  Heaven  is  the  note  of  her  lovely  air, 
"  Happy  they,"  and  her  farewell  to  earth,  "  Farewell,  ye 
limpid  springs,"  seems  to  rise  into  wondrous  regions  of 
rapturous  ecstasy.  Jephtha  is  a  still  profounder  study. 
His  rapid  changes  of  mood  are  painted  with  marvellous 
skill.  Unfortunately  the  modern  trick  of  linking  the 
recitative,  "  Deeper  and  deeper  still,"  to  the  air,  "  Waft 
her,  angels,"  plays  complete  havoc  with  Handel's  carefully 
wrought  psychology.  The  two  numbers  have  really 
nothing  to  do  with  each  other.  The  recitative  paints  the 
conflict  of  Jephtha's  emotions  when  he  realises  that  his  vow 
is  to  cost  his  daughter  her  life.     The  air  comes  at  a  later 

324  HANDEL 

stage,  when  anguish  has  given  place  to  resignation.  It 
forms  the  conckision  of  a  great  scena  of  which  the  opening 
movement,  "  Hide  thou  thy  hated  beams,  O  sun,"  touches 
the  depths  of  gloom  and  despair,  while  the  succeeding 
air,  "  Waft  her,  angels,"  is  illumined  by  a  ray  of  curious 
exaltation.  The  much-tried  hero  seems  to  realise  in  a 
dim  way  the  wonderful  conception,  which  was  familiar  to 
Greek  minds,  that  in  uttermost  misery  there  is  an  element 
of  beauty.  Heavy  fathers,  as  theatrical  people  call  them, 
are  common  enough  in  Handel's  oratorios,  but  the  heavy 
mother  is  a  rare  bird.  Storge  is  a  fine  specimen  of  the 
species,  and  her  music  is  highly  individual  and  character- 
istic. "  Scenes  of  horror  "  is  a  very  striking  and  dramatic 
scena,  and  "  First  perish  thou "  is  a  wonderful  burst  of 
passionate  indignation. 

During  the  last  years  of  Handel's  life  his  blindness 
proved  a  serious  hindrance  to  composition,  and  he  wrote 
little  but  a  few  additional  numbers  to  grace  the  revival 
of  some  of  his  oratorios.  The  merit  of  these  proves  con- 
clusively that  the  failure  of  his  sight  involved  no  corre- 
sponding failure  of  imaginative  or  technical  power,  indeed 
"  Sion  now  her  head  shall  raise,"  which  was  composed  for 
a  revival  of  Judas  Maccabcsus,  and  is  said  by  Burney  to 
have  been  absolutely  the  last  thing  that  Handel  wrote, 
is  in  his  stateliest  and  most  exalted  mannei-.  One  other 
task  occupied  his  declining  years,  the  revisal  of  his  early 
oratorio,  //  Trionfo  del  Tempo  e  della  Veritd.  This  work, 
it  will  be  remembered,  was  written  during  his  stay  in  Rome 
in  1708.  It  was  revised  and  enlarged,  and,  still  in  its 
Italian  dress,  produced  in  1737.  In  1757  a  translation 
of  the  1737  version  was  made  by  Dr.  Morell,  for  which 
Handel  wrote  several  new  numbers  and  adapted  others 
from  earlier  works,  principally  from  Parnasso    in   Festa, 


which  contributed  the  delightfully  fresh  and  open-air 
choruses  of  hunters  and  dryads.  In  its  final  version,  there- 
fore, The  Triumph  of  Time  and  Truth  is  uniquely  interest- 
ing, as  covering  practically  the  whole  course  of  Handel's 
activity,  and  it  thus  forms  as  it  were  a  summing-up  of  his 
career  as  a  musician. 

It  is  curious,  considering  over  how  wide  an  interval 
its  composition  extended,  that  the  work  should  exhibit  so 
little  discrepancy  of  style,  but  the  fact  that  it  is  totally 
devoid  of  dramatic  interest,  and  deals  for  the  most  part 
only  with  the  lighter  side  of  life,  naturally  narrows  its 
range  to  sharply  defined  limits.  Nevertheless,  though  it 
cannot  be  accepted  as  a  representative  work,  TJie  Triumph 
of  Time  and  TrutJi  has  qualities  of  rare  distinction,  and 
it  is  significant  that  several  of  the  new  numbers,  such  as 
the  delicious  minuet,  "  Come,  live  with  pleasure,"  are  at 
least  as  conspicuous  for  youthful  freshness  and  charm  as 
those  that  were  written  when  the  composer  was  scarcely 
out  of  his  teens. 

But  those  whom  the  gods  love,  if  they  do  not  always 
die  young,  at  least  seem  never  to  grow  old,  and  it  is 
pleasant  to  think  that  Handel,  though  bowed  down  by 
affliction,  retained  his  lightness  of  heart  and  serenity  of 
temperament  to  the  end,  and,  like  Rembrandt  in  his  latest 
portrait,  bade  farewell  to  the  world  with  a  smiling  face. 


HANDEL'S  instrumental  works,  in  spite  of  their 
many  beauties,  appeal  far  less  strongly  to  the 
present  generation  than  anything  else  that  he  wrote.  The 
growth  of  musical  form,  the  development  of  the  orchestra, 
and  the  invention  of  the  pianoforte  have  combined  so 
completely  to  revolutionise  public  taste  since  his  day,  that 
a  far  greater  mental  effort  is  necessary  to  grasp  Handel's 
point  of  view  as  exemplified  in  his  sonatas  and  concertos 
than  is  the  case  with  regard  to  his  oratorios  or  even  to  his 
operas.  To  modern  ears  the  instrumental  music  of  the 
early  eighteenth  century  speaks  in  a  language  that  is  now 
obsolete,  and  a  certain  amount  of  preliminary  study  is 
necessary  before  its  meaning  can  be  thoroughly  grasped. 
Instrumental  music  has  made  such  rapid  strides  since  the 
days  of  the  Georges  that,  though  less  than  two  hundred 
years  separate  Handel  from  Richard  Strauss,  they  seem 
to  us  as  far  apart  as  is  Chaucer  from  Browning.  A  some- 
what similar  intellectual  exercise  is  demanded  in  each 
case  if  the  modern  student  desires  to  enter  into  the 
heritage  bequeathed  by  the  older  master,  and  in  Handel's 
case  no  less  than  in  Chaucer's  the  labour  of  mastering  the 
dialect  in  which  he  wrote  brings  its  own  reward. 

The  earliest  instrumental  work  of  Handel's  that  has 



survived  is  the  set  of  trios  for  two  hautboys  and  harp- 
sichord, which  is  said  by  Chrysander  to  have  been  written 
in  1696  in  the  composer's  eleventh  year.  If  it  was  really 
written  at  that  age  it  is  an  amazing  proof  of  Handel's  pre- 
cociousness,  for  though  it  discloses  few  traces  of  originality, 
the  workmanship  is  skilful  and  singularly  free  from  the 
weakness  and  irresolution  of  childhood. 

The  advance  on  these  boyish  works  shown  in  the 
harpsichord  suites,  the  first  set  of  which  was  published 
in  1720,  is  naturally  very  great.  The  latter  were  enorm- 
ously popular  in  Handel's  lifetime,  and  many  of  them  still 
hold  their  place  in  public  estimation  by  the  side  of  Bach's 
similar  works.  Handel's  harpsichord  music  is  admittedly 
unequal.  At  its  worst  it  is  the  kind  of  fluent  common- 
place that  almost  any  composer  of  the  time  could  reel  off 
by  the  yard,  but  at  its  best  it  has  all  the  great  and  dis- 
tinguished qualities  that  we  admire  in  his  choral  works. 
The  first  set  of  suites  is  perhaps  the  strongest.  It  is  full 
of  good  things,  and  there  are  hardly  any  weak  places  in 
it.  The  air  with  variations,  which  is  known  as  "  The 
Harmonious  Blacksmith,"  is  of  course  the  most  famous 
thing  that  Handel,  or  indeed  anybody  else,  wrote  for  the 
harpsichord,  but  it  is  far  inferior  to  much  that  surrounds  it. 
The  fugue  that  opens  the  E  minor  suite,  with  its  three 
defiant  hammer-blows,  is  superb,  and  another  splendid 
movement  is  the  "  Overture "  to  the  suite  in  G  minor. 
Some  of  the  AUemandes  and  Courantes  are  now  getting 
a  little  musty,  but  the  gigues  are  almost  always  first-rate. 
That  in  the  suite  in  A  is  particularly  jovial,  and  those  in 
E  minor  and  F  sharp  minor  are  very  nearly  as  good, 
while  the  whole  of  the  F  major  suite,  with  its  pensive 
introduction,  lively  allegro,  and  brilliant  fugue,  is  as  fresh 
and  delightful  as  on  the  day  that  it  was  written. 

328  HANDEL 

The  second  book  opens  magnificently  with  the  wonder- 
ful prelude  to  the  suite  in  B  flat,  one  of  the  most  romantic 
things  Handel  ever  wrote.  Samuel  Butler  chose  it  as  an 
illustration  of  the  moaning  of  the  statues  in  Ei'ewhon, 
and  there  is  indeed  something  almost  unearthly  in  its 
wild  weird  chords.  The  rest  of  the  collection  contains 
nothing  that  can  be  compared  to  this  marvellous  piece. 
Many  of  the  dance  movements  are  charmingly  graceful, 
and  the  gigues  are  invariably  vigorous,  but  the  intermin- 
able variations  are  rather  wearisome.  The  third  book, 
which  was  not  published  during  Handel's  lifetime,  is  a 
very  miscellaneous  collection.  Some  of  the  pieces  date 
from  Handel's  early  youth,  and  others  are  obviously 
written  for  childish  performers,  probably  for  the  young 
princesses  or  for  other  aristocratic  performers.  Far  finer 
are  the  six  fugues,  which  were  published  in  1735.  They 
are  shining  examples  of  Handel's  smoothly  flowing 
counterpoint.  Two  of  them  he  subsequently  used  in 
Israel  in  Egypt,  the  first  as  "  He  smote  all  the  first-born 
in  Egypt,"  and  the  fifth  as  "  They  loathed  to  drink  of  the 
waters."  The  fourth  had  already  done  duty  in  the  over- 
ture to  the  Brockes  Passion.  The  last  of  the  set  has  a 
grave  beauty  which  gives  it  a  character  all  its  own. 
Samuel  Butler  refers  to  it  in  his  Way  of  All  Flesh,  quoting 
the  subject  as  a  suitable  epitaph  for  "  an  old  man  who  was 
very  sorry  for  things."  A  better  description  of  it  could 
not  be  devised. 

Handel's  sonatas  for  violin  and  other  instruments 
accompanied  by  the  harpsichord,  though  not  so  well 
known  to  musicians  as  his  harpsichord  suites,  are  still  by 
no  means  forgotten.  A  set  of  twelve  was  published  in 
1732,  and  others  taken  from  various  sources  bring  the 
total  up  to  nineteen.     At  what  date  they  were  composed 


is  not  certainly  known.  Chrysander  attributes  the 
beautiful  sonata  for  viola  da  gamba  to  the  year  1705,  since 
it  is  known  that  the  gamba  was  a  favourite  instrument 
in  Hamburg  at  that  time.  The  hautboy  sonatas  may 
possibly  date  from  still  earlier  times,  when  Handel, 
according  to  his  own  account,  composed  for  that  instru- 
ment "  like  a  devil."  The  violin  sonatas  were  very  likely 
written  for  Dubourg,  who  played  Handel's  music  at 
concerts  as  early  as  1719,^  or  perhaps  for  the  Prince  of 
Wales,  who  took  lessons  from  Dubourg  about  1730. 
Many  of  these  sonatas  are  delightfully  fresh  and 
melodious.  The  first  of  the  two  sonatas  in  A  is  still 
popular,  and  those  in  E  and  D  are  occasionally  to  be 
heard  in  twentieth  century  concert-rooms.  The  Allegro 
of  the  latter  is  a  kind  of  preliminary  sketch  for  the  chorus, 
"  Live  for  ever,  pious  David's  son,"  in  Solomon,  and  in 
several  other  movements  occur  reminiscences  of  works 
already  written  or  foreshadowings  of  those  that  were  to 

Two  sets  of  trios,  for  various  combinations  of  instru- 
ments, published  respectively  in  1733  and  1739,  also 
exist.  The  first  follows  the  general  lines  of  the  early 
Halle  set  of  trios,  as  far  as  form  is  concerned,  though 
naturally  with  a  far  greater  degree  of  technical  skill  and 
melodic  invention.  Many  of  these  trios  are  indeed  of 
singular  beauty  and  expressive  power.  The  first  of  the 
set,  which  is  written  for  flute,  violin,  and  harpsichord, 
has  a  slow  movement  of  wonderfully  tranquil  loveliness 
followed  by  an  allegro,  founded  upon  the  highly 
expressive   melody  associated  with  the  words,  "  Why  so 

^  The  Daily  Cotirant  of  i6th  February  1719  refers  to  a  new  concerto, 
"  compos'd  by  Mr.  Hendel,  and  perform'd  by  Mr.  Dubourg  at  Hickford's 
great  Room  in  James  Street." 

330  HANDEL 

full  of  grief,  O  my  soul,"  in  one  of  the  Chandos  anthems, 
which  is  worked  up  to  a  climax  of  remarkable  force. 
Another  is  a  transcription  of  the  overture  to  Esther^ 
ingeniously  modified  to  suit  its  altered  circumstances, 
while  every  one  of  the  set  presents  some  points  of  interest. 
The  1739  trios  are  rather  lighter  in  style,  dance  move- 
ments being  employed  with  greater  frequency.  On  the 
whole  they  resemble  the  concertos  in  form  rather  than 
the  earlier  set  of  trios,  and  there  is  a  more  pronouncedly 
orchestral  feeling  about  them.  This  is  particularly  the 
case  with  No.  4,  which  is  an  adaptation  of  the  overture  to 
Athaliak,  with  the  addition  of  a  Passacaglia  and  other 
dances,  and  it  is  difficult  to  believe  that  certain  other 
movements,  such  as  the  march  in  the  second  sonata,  can 
really  have  been  intended  for  solo  instruments. 

An  interesting  point  about  Handel's  solo  sonatas  and 
trios,  to  which  attention  has  not,  I  think,  been  sufficiently 
drawn,  is  their  value  as  links  in  the  chain  of  the  develop- 
ment of  what  is  called  sonata-form.  It  is  the  fashion, 
nowadays,  especially  with  critics  who  have  never  taken 
the  trouble  to  study  his  works,  to  repeat  the  old  parrot- 
cry  that  Handel  did  not  further  the  advance  of  music  in 
any  respect.  I  have  already  pointed  out  how  groundless 
is  this  accusation  in  respect  of  oratorio.  With  regard  to 
chamber  music  it  is  no  less  false.  Much  of  Handel's 
chamber  music  is,  in  point  of  form,  strikingly  in  advance 
of  his  time,  and  it  is  curious  that  his  leaning  towards 
modern  methods  should  have  been  so  little  remarked  by 
historians  in  their  investigation  of  the  beginnings  of 
sonata-form.  In  many  of  his  sonatas  there  are  move- 
ments which  within  a  comparatively  brief  compass 
conform  strictly  to  the  general  outlines  of  sonata-form. 
The  second  movements  of  two  of  his  best  known  sonatas. 


those  in  A  and  D,  are  good  instances,  and  the  second 
movement  of  the  sonata  in  C  minor  for  flute  and  violin 
(Op.  7,  No.  i)  is  another.  But  throughout  Handel's 
chamber  music  the  tendency  towards  sonata-form  is  often 
to  be  traced  in  the  most  unmistakable  fashion. 

Considerably  more  important  than  his  chamber  works 
are  the  concertos  which  Handel  wrote  for  various  com- 
binations of  instruments.  The  concerto  of  the  early 
eighteenth  century  was,  it  need  hardly  be  said,  a  very 
different  thing  from  the  concerto  of  modern  times. 
Handel's  use  of  the  form  differs  considerably  from  Bach's. 
Save  in  the  case  of  the  organ  he  wrote  very  few  concertos 
for  a  solo  instrument.  The  main  characteristic  of  his 
concertos  lies  in  the  contrast  between  a  small  group  of 
solo  instruments,  technically  called  the  concertino,  and  a 
string  band,  called  the  ripieno.  In  his  first  set  of  Concerti 
Grossi,  which  were  published  in  the  year  1734,  the  dis- 
position of  instruments  varies  very  much.  Now  and  then 
we  get  a  movement  in  which  one  solo  instrument  pre- 
dominates, but  as  a  rule  the  concertino  is  a  group  of  two 
or  more  instruments.  Thus  in  the  first  of  the  six  con- 
certos, the  concertino  of  the  opening  movement  consists  of 
two  hautboys  and  a  violin  ;  in  the  second  movement 
two  flutes  are  added  and  one  of  the  hautboys  is  silent ; 
while  the  third  movement  returns  to  the  original  arrange- 
ment. These  Concerti  Grossi  are  popularly  known  as  the 
"  Hautboy  "  concertos,  from  the  prominent  part  assigned  to 
the  hautboys.  The  title,  however,  is  decidedly  misleading 
to  modern  ears,  as  there  is  very  little  actual  solo  work  for 
a  single  hautboy,  save  in  a  few  isolated  movements,  such 
as  the  lovely  Largo  in  the  second  concerto,  and  the 
Andante  in  the  fourth.  There  is  a  more  decided  approx- 
imation  to   the    modern    manner    of    treating   the   solo 

332  HANDEL 

instrument  in  a  second  set  of  Conccrti  Grossi,  published 
by  Walsh  in  1741,  together  with  works  by  Veracini  and 
Tartini,  under  the  title  Select  Harmony^  and  in  a  couple 
of  concertos,  dating  from  a  much  earlier  time,  which  were 
published  by  Chrysander  in  vol.  xxi.  of  his  edition  of 
Handel's  works.  The  Concerti  Grossi  are  among  the  most 
attractive  of  Handel's  instrumental  works.  They  are  as  a 
rule  light  and  even  gay  in  sentiment,  the  slow  movements 
being  usually  short,  and  in  some  cases  omitted  altogether. 
The  allegro  movements  are  among  Handel's  most  vigorous 
efforts,  and  the  dance  movements,  of  which  there  are  not 
a  few,  are  invariably  charming.  Several  movements  are 
familiar  to  those  who  know  their  Handel  well,  being 
adapted  or  transcribed  from  earlier  works,  according  to 
a  fashion  common  at  the  time,  to  which  Handel  was 
particularly  addicted. 

The  twelve  "  Grand "  concertos  for  strings,  which 
were  written  in  1739  and  published  in  1740,  are  on  afar 
more  imposing  scale.  Six  of  the  concertos  have  five 
movements  and  four  have  six,  and  they  are  all  planned 
upon  a  scale  of  grandeur  and  dignity  that  differentiates 
them  entirely  from  the  "  Hautboy  "  concertos.  They  are 
written  for  strings  alone,  of  course  accompanied  by  the 
harpsichord,  as  was  the  universal  practice  in  Handel's 
day,  and  the  coficertino  in  each  instance  is  composed  of 
two  violins  and  a  violoncello,  contrasted  with  the  ripieno 
band  of  strings.  With  these  modest  materials  Handel 
produced  effects  often  of  surprising  grandeur,  varied  by 
the  touches  of  exquisite  lightness  and  grace.  In  fact,  one 
of  the  most  striking  features  of  the  "  Grand  "  concertos  is 
the  varied  colour  and  feeling  which  Handel,  in  spite  of 
all  limitations,  contrived  to  infuse  into  them.  Not  only 
with   regard   to   changes   of  key — a   point   in  which   he 


proved  himself  far  more  advanced  than  Bach — but  by 
novel  arrangements  of  the  movements,  he  sought  with 
signal  success  to  avoid  the  charge  of  monotony  so  often 
levelled  against  works  for  strings  alone.  The  ninth 
concerto  is  a  good  average  specimen  of  Handel's  treat- 
ment of  the  form.  It  opens  with  a  magnificently  solemn 
and  dignified  introduction,  Largo,  f ,  in  F  major,  leading 
into  a  vigorous  Allegro,  C,  in  the  same  key.  To  this 
succeeds  a  graceful  Siciliana,  Larghetto,  f ,  in  D  minor, 
leading  into  a  splendidly  forcible  fugue  in  F  major. 
Allegro,  C.  Then  comes  a  dainty  little  minuet  in  F 
minor,  f ,  and  the  concerto  ends  with  a  brilliant  gigue  in  F 
major,  ^.  It  is  curious,  considering  how  much  popularity 
Bach's  suites  now  enjoy,  that  these  concertos  of  Handel 
should  be  so  seldom  performed.  But  at  no  time  have 
they  equalled  in  popularity  the  organ  concertos,  of  which 
Burney  observed  that  "  public  players  on  keyed  instru- 
ments, as  well  as  private,  totally  subsisted  on  these 
concertos  for  near  thirty  years."  The  first  set  of  organ 
concertos  was  published  in  1738,  and  the  second,  which 
was  largely  made  up  of  arrangements  of  the  "  Grand " 
concertos,  in  1740.  A  third  set,  which  consisted  mainly  of 
original  music,  was  published  a  year  after  Handel's  death 
under  the  title  of  Op.  7.  Handel's  organ  music  is  disap- 
pointing to  those  who  come  to  it  fresh  from  Bach.  It 
must  be  remembered,  however,  that  his  organ  concertos 
in  their  printed  form  represent  but  the  skeleton,  as  it 
were,  of  the  works  as  conceived  and  executed  by  the 
composer.  His  talent  for  improvisation  was  admitted  by 
all  who  heard  him  to  be  extraordinary,  and  it  was  his 
custom  to  grace  his  concertos  with  long  extempore 
passages,  for  which  the  printed  notes  served  but  as  the 
foundation.     We  must  bear  in  mind,  too,  the  difference 

334  HANDEL 

that  existed  in  Handel's  time  between  English  and 
German  organs.  Until  the  end  of  the  eighteenth  century 
the  organ  in  St.  Paul's  Cathedral,  on  which  Handel  de- 
lighted to  play  as  a  young  man,  was  the  only  one  in  the 
country  that  boasted  a  pedal-board.  In  writing  his  organ 
concertos,  therefore,  Handel  was  compelled  to  restrict 
himself  to  the  manuals,  and  was  thus  driven  to  compose 
in  a  style  which,  though  flexible  and  brilliant,  seems 
slight  and  thin  by  the  side  of  the  massive  splendour  of 
Bach.  It  must  be  further  remembered  that  Handel's 
organ  concertos,  as  well  as  those  written  for  other  instru- 
ments, were  intended  for  concert  use,  whereas  Bach's 
organ  music  was  primarily  dedicated  to  the  service  of  the 
church.  Handel's  concertos  formed  part  and  parcel  of 
his  oratorios,  which  indeed  first  called  them  into  being,  and 
were  responsible  for  their  very  existence.  It  is  hardly 
fair,  therefore,  to  treat  them  as  independent  works,  or  to 
demand  from  them  what  we  find,  let  us  say,  in  Haydn's 
symphonies,  the  earliest  of  which  were  composed  about 
the  time  of  Handel's  death.  Handel's  main  design  in 
writing  his  concertos  was  to  afford  a  pleasant  relief  to  his 
hearers  between  the  acts  of  an  oratorio,  to  lull  them  with 
the  sheer  beauty  of  sound,  much  as  Euripides  used  the 
perfect  music  of  his  choral  odes  to  soothe  the  nerves  of 
his  audience,  strained  to  bursting-point  by  the  poignant 
emotions  of  a  tragedy.  Did  we  know  for  what  context 
each  concerto  was  designed  we  might  trace  in  it  an  echo 
of  the  scenes  that  it  neighboured.  But  with  regard  to 
most  of  the  concertos  no  such  tradition  has  survived. 
We  know  that  the  organ  concerto  in  B  flat  (No.  3  of  the 
J  ^4  third  act)  was  so  much  associated  in  the  popular  mind 
with  Esther  that  the  minuet  in  it  was  commonly  known 
as    the    minuet    in    Esther,  but   the   rest   is   silence.     It 


would  be  exceedingly  interesting  to  know  something 
about  the  provenance  of  the  so-called  "  Cuckoo  and 
Nightingale"  concerto  (No.  2  of  the  second  set).  It  is 
an  adaptation  of  one  of  the  "  Grand  "  concertos,  but  the 
passages  imitating  the  notes  of  the  cuckoo  and  nightingale 
were  added  in  the  later  version.  There  are  very  few 
instances  in  Handel's  instrumental  music  of  directly 
imitative  music  of  this  kind.  His  oratorios  aad  operas 
are,  of  course,  full  of  it,  either  in  the  shape  of  dramatic 
symphonies,  like  those  illustrating  the  pangs  of  the  dying 
Hercules  and  the  mad  haste  of  Belshazzar's  postilions,  or 
as  reproductions  of  the  sights  and  sounds  of  nature  in 
the  accompaniments  to  songs.  This  concerto,  however, 
stands  as  much  alone  among  the  works  of  Handel  as 
does  the  Pastoral  Symphony  among  Beethoven's,  and  it 
is  curious  that  the  two  great  composers,  who  had  so  little 
else  in  common,  should  join  hands  over  their  common 
love  for  the  outdoor  world. 

In  one  other  point  Handel  may  be  said  to  have  given 
a  hint  to  Beethoven,  namely,  in  concluding  an  instru- 
mental work  with  a  chorus.  In  the  British  Museum  there 
exists  an  autograph  of  the  fourth  organ  concerto,  to  which 
is  appended  an  Alleluia  chorus,  founded  upon  a  theme  in 
the  concerto.  It  was  written  in  1735,  and  was  used  as 
the  conclusion  to  the  oratorio,  //  Trionfo  del  Tempo  e 
della   Veritd,  which  was  revived  in  an  amended  form  in 


The  most  famous  instrumental  work  that  Handel  ever 
wrote  is  unquestionably  the  Water  Music.  It  undoubtedly 
owes  a  good  deal  of  its  notoriety  to  the  circumstances  of 
its  production,^  but  its  intrinsic  beauty  is  quite  sufficient 
to  account  for  its  popularity.     Handel's  dance  music  is 

1  See  p.  73. 

336  HANDEL 

always  delightful,  and  the  sparkling  series  of  movements 
that  he  wrote  for  George  I's  water-party  are  in  his  freshest 
and  gayest  manner.  Somewhat  less  interesting,  though 
no  less  well  adapted  for  open-air  performance,  is  the  Fire- 
works Music  which  he  composed  for  the  celebration  of  the 
Peace  of  Aix-la-Chapelle  in  1749.^  Both  works  indeed 
bear  convincing  testimony  to  Handel's  cleverness  in 
adapting  his  style  to  the  exigencies  of  the  occasion,  and 
to  the  forces  that  he  had  at  his  disposition. 

Handel's  other  instrumental  works  must  be  briefly 
dismissed.  Reference  has  already  been  made  in  various 
places  to  the  overtures  and  other  instrumental  movements 
that  adorn  his  operas  and  oratorios,  but  a  few  general 
observations  may  find  place  here.  Handel  borrowed  the 
form  of  overture  that  had  been  invented  by  Lulli  and 
improved  by  Scarlatti,  and  used  it  with  but  little  altera- 
tion until  the  close  of  his  career.  He  soon  left  his  models 
far  behind.  It  is  not  too  much  to  say  that  the  overture 
to  Alniira  is  finer  than  anything  that  had  been  written 
up  to  that  date,  and  as  his  touch  grew  firmer  and  his 
knowledge  of  musical  effect  profounder,  Handel  soon 
surpassed  the  boyish  efforts  of  his  Hamburg  days.  It 
has  often  been  said  by  musical  historians  who  are  in  too 
great  a  hurry  to  read  the  works  that  they  criticise,  that 
Handel's  overtures  are  all  alike,  and  that  one  would  do 
just  as  well  as  another  as  an  introduction  to  any  of  the 
operas  or  oratorios.  A  very  small  amount  of  research 
will  bring  an  unprejudiced  student  to  a  precisely  opposite 
conclusion.  I  will  not  say  that  in  the  case  of  some  of  the 
operas  which  deal  with  similar  subjects  the  substitution 
of  one  overture  for  another  would  be  attended  with  fatal 
results.     Working  as  he  did  at  headlong  speed,  Handel 

^  See  p.  200. 


had  not  always  time  or  inclination  for  psychological 
subtlety,  but  as  a  rule  it  will  be  found  that  his  overtures 
fit  the  works  that  they  precede  a  good  deal  more  closely 
than  our  historians  suspect.  Usually  it  is  only  the  general 
tone  of  the  work  that  is  reproduced,  as  in  the  case  of  The 
Messiah,  where  the  solemn  reticence  of  the  treatment  is 
duly  foreshadowed  in  the  overture,  or  of  Susanna,  in  which 
the  overture  gives  a  foretaste  of  the  village  life  that  forms 
the  background  of  the  oratorio.  In  other  works  the  idea 
of  a  unity  of  atmosphere  is  worked  out  more  fully.  The 
overture  to  The  Triumph  of  Time  and  Truth  gives  a  brief 
compendium  of  the  struggle  between  duty  and  pleasure 
that  forms  the  theme  of  the  oratorio — pleasure,  as  is  usual 
with  Handel,  being  painted  in  far  more  agreeable  colours 
than  her  grave  antagonist.  The  overture  to  the  Occasional 
Oratorio  sails  nearer  to  the  boundaries  of  programme 
music.  It  must  be  a  very  dull  listener  who  does  not  read 
in  that  stirring  piece  the  whole  history  of  the  war  that 
formed  Handel's  subject — the  mustering  of  troops  for 
battle,  the  lament  over  the  fallen,  and  the  triumphant 
return  of  the  victors. 

In  the  overture  to  the  second  act  of  Admcto,  which 
precedes  the  descent  of  Alcestis  to  the  shades,  we  get  a 
striking  tone-picture  of  the  gloomy  regions  of  death, 
extraordinarily  modern  in  feeling,  though  fugal  in 
structure.  The  overture  to  Deborah,  again,  in  which 
melodies  from  the  work  itself  are  used,  gives  a  complete 
and  graphic  picture  of  the  struggle  between  the  Israelites 
and  their  heathen  foes  in  the  manner  that  is  usually  sup- 
posed to  have  originated  at  a  much  later  date.  Enough 
has  been  perhaps  said  to  show  that  Handel's  overtures 
are  by  no  means  so  monotonously  uniform  in  style  as  is 
generally  affirmed,  and  the  symphonies  and  other  instru- 

338  HANDEL 

mental  movements  which  occur  in  his  operas  and  oratorios 
are  no  less  interesting.  Many  of  them  are  wonderfully 
vivid  pieces  of  musical  painting,  and  show  Handel's  genius 
in  a  light  that  is  unfamiliar  to  modern  musicians.  Such 
passages  as  the  sleep  of  Somnus  in  Seniele,  and  the  moon- 
rise  in  Ariodante,  to  name  but  two  instances  out  of  many, 
form  an  important  link  in  the  history  of  programme 

Mention  should  be  made  for  the  sake  of  completeness 
of  the  set  of  dance  tunes  which  Handel  wrote,  or  rather 
adapted  from  Rodrigo,  for  the  revival  of  Ben  Jonson's 
Alchymisf  under  John  Rich  at  Covent  Garden  Theatre  in 
1732,  and  of  the  music  of  Terpsichore^  a  ballet  that  he 
composed  in  1734  for  Mile.  Salle.  Handel's  dance  music 
is  almost  invariably  fresh  and  charming,  and  even  when 
he  is  in  his  lightest  mood  his  grand  manner  never  deserts 
him.  His  instrumental  music  is  now  sadly  out  of  fashion, 
and  it  would  probably  be  impossible  to  expect  the  average 
twentieth  century  concert-goer  to  take  much  interest  in  it. 
But  to  those  who  have  mastered  the  Handelian  idiom  its 
beauty  appears  eternally  new,  and  its  unfailing  dignity 
and  loftiness  of  style  recall  the  words  in  which  Edward 
FitzGerald  summed  up  his  opinion  of  Handel :  "  His  is 
the  music  for  a  great  active  people." 


Merlini's  Letter  to  Ferdinand  dei  Medici 

Roma,  24  Settemhre  1707 
"  Serenissima  Altezza, — Essendo  costume  degnissimo 
di  V.A.S.,  che  ha  il  suo  grand'  animo  ornato  di  tutte  le 
virtu,  di  far  scelta  de'  virtuosi  piu  rinomati  in  tutte  le 
occasioni  che  se  le  appresentano  di  porre  in  lodata  e 
dilettevole  prova  il  lor  valore :  molto  e  doveroso  che  sia 
noto  alia  medesima  S.A.V.  un  germe  novello  quale  e  un 
giovinetto  di  anni  tredici  Romano,  che  in  eta  si  tenera 
tocca  r  arciliuto  con  fondamento  e  franchezza  tale  che 
postegli  innanzi  compositioni  anche  non  pria  vedute 
gareggia  non  senza  grande  ammiratione  e  meritato 
applauso  con  professori  e  virtuosi  piu  inveterati  e  piu 
celebri.  Questo  interviene  alle  Musiche  e  primarie 
Accademie  di  Roma,  come  e  a  dire  in  quella  dell'  Emo 
Sig'^^-  Card'^-  Ottoboni,  nell'  altra  che  per  tutto  I'anno 
quotidianamente  continua  nell'  Ecc""^-  Casa  Colonna  e  nel 
Collegio  Clementino ;  e  si  in  queste  come  in  altre  pubbli- 
che  Accademie  suona  a  solo  ed  in  concerto  con  qualsiasi 
virtuoso.  E  tuttocio  ben  potrebbe  testificarsi  dal  Sassone 
famoso  che  lo  ha  ben  inteso  in  Casa  Ottoboni,  ed  in 
Casa  Colonna  ha  sonato  seco  e  vi  sona  di  continuo.  II 
Sig"^^-  Duca  della  Mirandola  nel  tempo  di  sua  dimora  in 
Roma  sempre  1'  ha  tenuto  appresso  di  se.  Per  tanto  se 
V.A.S.  in  congiuntura  di  cotesta  opera  havesse  curiosita 
di  sperimentarlo  ardisco  dire  che  cio  avverrebbe  con 
istupore  di  chi  che  sia.  E  per  essere  il  fancuillo  figlio  del 
Decano  della  Sig""^-  Prencipessa  Altieri  credo  che  esso  di 


340  HANDEL 

lui  padre  ne  havera  una  somma  ambizione.  Lo  stesso 
figliolo  e  di  gran  spirito,  di  bella  presenza  e  di  ottima 
indole.  Et  in  humilita  alia  S.A.V.  le  faccio  pro- 
fondiss^  riv^^, 

"  Anibale  Merlini  " 

Archivio  Mediceo,  Filza  5897 


Letters  on  Israel  in  Egypt 

I  have  not  succeeded  in  finding  a  copy  of  the  London 
Daily  Post  in  which  the  first  of  the  following  letters 
appeared.  It  was,  however,  reprinted  in  the  issue  of 
April  I,  1740,  on  the  occasion  of  a  revival  of  Israel  in 

Wedaesday  viorning,  April  18,  1739 
"  Sir, — I  beg  Leave,  by  your  Paper,  to  congratulate, 
not  Mr.  Handel,  but  the  Town,  upon  the  appearance 
there  was  last  Night  at  Israel  in  Egypt.  The  glory  of 
one  Man,  on  this  Occasion,  is  but  of  small  Importance, 
in  Comparison  with  that  of  so  numerous  an  Assembly. 
The  having  a  disposition  to  encourage,  and  Faculties  to 
be  entertain'd  by  such  a  truly-spiritual  Entertainment, 
being  very  little  inferior  to  the  unrivall'd  Superiority  of 
first  selecting  the  noble  thoughts  contained  in  the  Drama, 
and  giving  to  each  its  proper  Expression  in  that  most 
noble  and  angelic  Science  of  Musick.  This,  Sir,  the 
inimitable  Author  has  done  in  such  a  manner  as  far  to 
excel  himself,  if  compar'd  with  any  other  of  his  masterly 
Compositions:  As,  indeed,  he  must  have  infinitely  sunk 
beneath  himself,  and  done  himself  great  Injustice,  had 
he  fallen  short  of  doing  so. — But  what  a  glorious 
Spectacle !  to  see  a  crowded  Audience  of  the  first 
Quality  of  a    Nation,  headed   by  the    Heir-apparent  of 


their  Sovereign's  Crown  and  Virtues,  with  his  lovely 
and  beloved  Royal  Consort  by  his  Side,  sitting  enchanted 
(each  receiving  a  superior  Delight  from  the  visible  Satis- 
faction it  gave  the  other)  at  Sounds,  that  at  the  same 
time  express'd  in  so  sublime  a  manner  the  Praises  of  the 
Deity  itself,  and  did  such  Honour  to  the  Faculties  of 
human  Nature,  in  first  creating  those  Sounds,  if  I  may 
so  speak ;  and  in  the  next  Place,  being  able  to  be  so 
highly  delighted  with  them.  Nothing  shows  the  Worth 
of  a  People  more,  than  their  Taste  for  Publick  Diversions  : 
And  could  it  be  suppos'd,  as  I  hope  in  Charity  it  may, 
or  if  this  and  suchlike  Entertainments  are  often  repeated, 
it  will,  that  numerous  and  splendid  Assemblies  shall  enter 
into  the  true  Spirit  of  such  an  Entertainment,  praising 
their  Creator  for  the  Care  He  takes  of  '  the  Righteous ' 
(see  Oratorio,  p.  6)  and  for  the  Delight  he  gives  them  : — 
Did  such  a  Taste  prevail  tmiversally  in  a  People,  that 
People  might  expect  on  a  like  Occasion^  if  such  Occasion 
should  ever  happen  to  them,  the  sam,e  Deliverance  as  those 
praises  celebrate ;  and  Protestant,  free,  virtuous,  united. 
Christian  England  need  little  fear,  at  any  time  Jiereafter,  the 
whole  Force  of  slavish,  bigotted,  united,  unchristian  Popery^ 
risen  up  against  her  should  sucli  a  conjuncture  ever  hereafter 

"  If  the  Town  is  ever  to  be  bless'd  with  this  Entertain- 
ment again,  I  would  recommend  to  every  one  to  take 
the  Book  of  the  Drama  with  them  :  For  tho'  the  Harmony 
be  so  unspeakably  great  of  itself,  it  is  in  an  unmeasurable 
Proportion  more  so,  when  seen  to  what  Words  it  is 
adapted  ;  especially,  if  every  one  who  could  take  with 
them  the  Book,  would  do  their  best  to  carry  a  Heart  for 
the  Sense,  as  well  as  an  Ear  for  the  Sound.  • 

"  The  narrow  Limits  of  your  Paper  forbids  entering 
into  Particulars  :  But  they  know  not  what  they  fall  short 
of  in  the  Perfection  of  the  Entertainment,  who,  when  they 
hear  the  Musick,  are  not  acquainted  with  the  Words  it 
expresses  ;  or,  if  they  have  the  Book,  have  not  the  proper 
Spirit  to  relish  them.  The  Whole  of  the  first  Part 
\i.e.   the   Funeral  Anthem]   is  entirely  Devotional ;   and 

342  HANDEL 

tho'  the  second  Part  be  but  Historical,  yet  as  it  relates 
the  great  Acts  of  the  Power  of  God,  the  Sense  and 
the  Musick  have  a  reciprocal  Influence  upon  each 

"  *  He  gave  them  Hailstones  for  Rain,  Fire  mingled  with 
the  Hail  ran  along  the  Ground ' :  And  above  all,  '  But 
the  Waters  overwhelm'd  their  Enemies,  there  was  not 
one  left.' — The  Sublimity  of  the  great  Musical  Poet's 
Imagination  here  will  not  admit  of  Expression  to  any 
one  who  considers  the  Sound  and  the  Sense  together. 

"  The  same  of  '  He  is  my  God,  I  will  prepare  Him  an 
Habitation:  my  Father's  God.'  Page  13  in  the  third 

"Again,  'Thou  didst  blow  with  the  Wind;  the  Sea 
cover'd  them  ;  they  sunk  as  Lead  in  the  mighty  Waters,' 
— and,  to  name  no  more,  '  The  Lord  shall  reign  for  ever 
and  ever';  and  Miriam's  Song  at  the  Conclusion. 

"  'Tis  a  sort  of  separate  Existence  the  Musick  has  in 
these  places  apart  from  the  Words ;  'tis  Soul  and  Body 
join'd  when  heard  and  read  together:  and  if  People 
before  they  went  to  hear  it  would  but  retire  a  Moment, 
and  read  by  themselves  the  Words  of  the  Sacred  Drama, 
it  would  tend  very  much  to  raise  their  Delight  when 
at  the  Representation,  The  Theatre,  on  this  Occasion, 
ought  to  be  enter'd  with  more  solemnity  than  a  Church ; 
inasmuch  as  the  Entertainment  you  go  to  is  really  in 
itself  the  noblest  Adoration  and  Homage  paid  to  the 
Deity  that  ever  was  in  one.  So  sublime  an  Act  of 
Devotion  as  this  Representation  carries  in  it,  to  a  Heart 
and  Ear  duly  tuned  for  it,  would  consecrate  even  Hell 
itself — It  is  the  Action  that  is  done  in  it  that  hallows  the 
Place,  and  not  the  Place  the  Action.  And  if  any  outward 
Circumstances  foreign  to  me  can  adulterate  a  good 
Action,  I  do  not  see  where  I  can  perform  one,  but  in  the 
most  abstract  Solitude. — If  this  be  going  out  of  the 
way,  on  this  Occasion,  the  stupid  senseless  Exceptions 
that  have  been  taken  to  so  truly  religious  Representations 
as  this,  in  particular,  and  the  other  Oratorios  are,  from 
the  Place  they  are  exhibited  in,  and  to  the  attending  and 

APPExNDIX  B  343 

assisting  at  them  by  Persons  of  real  Piety  must  be  my 

"  I  have  been  told,  the  Words  were  selected  out  of 
the  Sacred  Writings  by  the  Great  Composer  himself. 
If  so,  the  Judiciousness  of  his  Choice  in  this  Respect, 
and  his  suiting  so  happily  the  Magnificence  of  the  Sounds 
in  so  exalted  a  Manner  to  the  Grandeur  of  the  Subject, 
shew  which  Way  his  natural  Genius,  had  he  but 
Encouragement,  would  incline  him ;  and  expresses,  in 
a  very  lively  Manner,  the  Harmony  of  his  Heart  to  be 
as  superlatively  excellent,  as  the  inimitable  Sounds  do 
the  Beauty  and  Force  of  his  Imagination  and  Skill  in 
the  noble  Science  itself. 

"  I  can't  conclude,  Sir,  without  great  concern  at  the 
Disadvantage  so  great  a  Master  labours  under,  with 
respect  to  many  of  his  Vocal  Instruments,  which  fall  so 
vastly  short  in  being  able  to  do  due  Justice  to  what  they 
are  to  perform ;  and  which,  if  executed  in  a  manner 
worthy  of  it,  would  receive  so  great  advantage.  This 
Consideration  will  make  a  humane  Mind  serious,  where 
a  lighter  Mind  would  be  otherwise  affected.  I  shall 
conclude  with  this  Maxim,  '  That  in  Publick  Entertain- 
ments Every  one  should  come  with  a  reasonable  Desire 
of  being  entertain'd  themselves,  or  with  the  polite  Resolu- 
tion no  ways  to  interrupt  the  Entertainment  of  others. 
And  that  to  have  a  truce  with  Dissipation  and  noisy 
Discourse,  and  to  forbear  that  silly  Affectation  of  beating 
Time  aloud  on  such  an  Occasion  is  indeed  in  appearance 
a  great  Compliment  paid  to  the  Divine  Author  of  so 
sacred  an  Entertainment,  and  to  the  rest  of  the  Company 
near  them;  but  at  the  same  time  in  reality  a  much 
greater  Respect  paid  to  themselves.'  I  cannot  but  add 
this  Word,  since  I  am  on  the  Subject,  That  I  think  a 
profound  Silence  a  much  more  proper  Expression  of 
Approbation  to  Musick,  and  to  deep  Distress  in  Tragedy, 
than  all  the  noisy  Applause  so  much  in  Vogue,  however 
great  the  Authority  of  Custom  may  be  for  it. — I  am, 
Sir,  etc,  R.  W." 

344  HANDEL 

London  Daily  Post,  13  May  1739 

"  Sir, — Upon  my  arrival  in  town  three  days  ago,  I  was 
not  a  little  surprised  to  find  that  Mr.  Handel's  last 
oratorio,  Israel  in  Egypt,  which  had  been  perform'd  but 
once,  was  advertised  to  be  for  the  last  time  on  Wednesday. 
I  was  almost  tempted  to  think  that  his  genius  had  failed 
him,  but  must  own  myself  agreeably  disappointed.  I  was 
not  only  pleased,  but  also  affected  by  it ;  for  I  never  yet 
met  with  any  musical  performance  in  which  the  words 
and  sentiments  were  so  thoroughly  studied  and  so  clearly 
understood ;  and  as  the  words  are  taken  from  the  Bible 
they  are  perhaps  some  of  the  most  sublime  parts  of  it. 
I  was  indeed  concerned  that  so  excellent  a  work  of  so 
great  a  genius  was  neglected,  for  though  it  was  a  polite 
and  attentive  audience,  it  was  not  large  enough,  I  doubt, 
to  encourage  him  in  any  future  attempt.  As  I  should  be 
extremely  sorry  to  be  deprived  of  hearing  this  again,  and 
found  many  of  the  auditors  in  the  same  disposition,  yet 
being  afraid  Mr.  Handel  will  not  undertake  it  without 
some  publick  encouragement,  because  he  may  think 
himself  precluded  by  his  advertisement  (that  it  was  to  be 
the  last  time)  I  must  beg  leave  by  your  means  to  convey 
not  only  my  own  but  the  desires  of  several  others  that  he 
will  perform  this  again  some  time  next  week. — I  am.  Sir, 
your  very  humble  servant,  A.  Z." 


Handel's  Indebtedness  to  other  Composers 

Of  late  years  the  question  of  Handel's  indebtedness  to 
other  composers  has  occupied  an  altogether  dispro- 
portionate amount  of  attention,  indeed  writers  on  Handel 
have  devoted  themselves  to  this  particular  point  almost 
to  the  exclusion  of  all  other  phases  of  the   composer's 


activity.  Mr.  Sedley  Taylor's  Indebtedness  of  Hatidel  to 
other  Composers  (Cambridge,  1907),  and  Mr.  P.  Robinson's 
Handel  and  his  Orbit  (London,  1908),  discuss  the  question 
so  fully  that  it  is  hardly  necessary  for  me  to  do  more  than 
refer  my  readers  to  their  pages  for  a  summary  of  the 
latest  conclusions  on  the  subject.  However,  as  a  certain 
amount  of  misunderstanding  still  exists  with  regard  to 
Handel's  supposed  delinquencies,  it  may  be  as  well  to 
recapitulate  briefly  all  that  is  known  about  them. 

There  is  no  doubt  that  Handel  did  make  liberal  use 
of  the  works  of  other  men.  The  practice  was  by  no 
means  uncommon  in  his  day,  as  Mr.  Robinson  proves  up 
to  the  hilt,  but  Handel  seems  to  have  gone  a  considerable 
step  farther  than  any  of  his  contemporaries.  Often  he 
borrowed  only  a  phrase  or  two  and  worked  them  up  into 
elaborate  choruses,  but  at  other  times  he  would  take  over 
a  whole  movement  practically  unaltered,  as  in  the  case 
of  "  Egypt  was  glad,"  and  "  Ere  to  dust  is  changed  thy 
beauty."  We  know  now,  thanks  to  the  labours  of  Mr. 
Robinson,  that  several  of  the  works  from  which  he 
borrowed  most,  e.g.  the  so-called  Urio  Te  Deum  and  the 
Erba  Magnificat,  were  in  all  probability  early  works  of 
his  own,  but  his  indebtedness  to  many  well-known 
composers  of  his  own  day  remains  an  established  fact. 
It  is  certain,  too,  that  his  borrowing  was  conducted  upon 
a  regular  system.  He  had  notebooks  in  which  he  jotted 
down  passages  which  he  thought  would  be  useful,  laying 
up  a  store  of  other  men's  ideas  against  a  rainy  day.  This 
practice  of  his  has  proved  a  grievous  stumbling-block  to 
many  of  his  latter-day  admirers,  whose  pious  minds  have 
been  severely  exercised  by  the  suspicion  that  their  hero, 
though  the  soul  of  honesty  in  the  ordinary  affairs  of  life, 
was  as  unscrupulous  as  a  highwayman  in  artistic  matters. 
The  difficulty  is  purely  imaginary ;  the  mistake  is  to 
judge  Handel  according  to  modern  notions  of  property. 
Copyright  legislation  has  in  our  times  entirely  altered 
the  popular  view  of  a  man's  rights  in  the  productions  of 
his  own  brain.  In  Handel's  day  the  idea  that  literary  or 
artistic  works  were  the  actual   property  of  their  authors 

346  HANDEL 

did  not  exist.  What  we  now  call  piracy  was  a  recognised 
institution,  and  Handel  suffered  from  it  as  much  as 
anybody.  It  is  true  that  composers  did  not  as  a  rule 
venture  to  make  free  with  his  music,  though  Mr.  Robinson 
has  shown  that  Muffat  did  so  on  occasion,  but  the  reason 
for  their  abstention  is  obvious.  Handel  borrowed  subjects 
from  his  contemporaries  because  he  saw  that  he  could  do 
more  wdth  them  than  the  composers  had  done,  but  he 
would  have  been  a  bold  man  who  ventured  to  go  one 
better  than  "the  celebrated  Mr.  Handel."  But  in  other 
respects  the  pirates  had  their  will  of  him,  and  apparently 
without  any  protest  on  his  part.  When  Walsh  made  a 
fortune  out  of  Rinaldo,  Handel  treated  the  incident  as  a 
joke,  and  merely  observed  that  the  next  time  Walsh 
should  write  the  opera  and  he  would  publish  it.  When 
Arne  gave  a  performance  of  Acts  and  Galatea  under 
Handel's  very  nose  in  the  Haymarket,  Handel  made  no 
protest,  but  merely  replied  with  a  performance  of  his  own. 
Everything  goes  to  prove  that  in  those  days  a  musical 
work,  so  soon  as  it  materialised  into  paper  and  ink,  was 
common  property,  and  any  one  who  chose  could  do  what 
he  liked  with  it.  To  pass  off  another  man's  work  as  your 
own,  as  Bononcini  is  supposed  to  have  done  in  the  case 
of  a  madrigal  by  Lotti,  was  a  perfectly  different  thing, 
and  was  regarded  as  a  piece  of  shameless  dishonesty,  but 
no  one  thought  the  worse  of  a  man  for  making  judicious 
use  of  what  was  evidently  regarded  as  the  common  stock. 
The  distinction  appears  a  slight  one  to  us,  whose  minds 
are  trained  by  modern  legislation,  but  in  the  eighteenth 
century  it  was  evidently  observed  with  the  utmost  nicety. 
After  all,  who  shall  say  that  we  are  right  and  our 
ancestors  wrong  ?  We  talk  glibly  nowadays  about  a  thing 
being  right  or  wrong,  when  all  that  we  really  mean  is 
that  it  is  legal  or  illegal.  Consciences  are  quite  as  elastic 
now  as  they  ever  were.  When  a  law  is  passed  we  contrive 
to  adjust  our  moral  standard  to  it  in  a  very  short  time. 
Even  now,  be  it  observed,  with  all  our  copyright  legisla- 
tion, we  have  by  no  means  come  to  regard  the  products 
of  our  brains  as  property  in  the   same  sense  as  lands, 


houses,  and  money.  A  man  is  only  allowed  to  enjoy  the 
proceeds  of  a  patented  invention  for  fourteen  years.  The 
books  that  we  write  and  the  music  that  we  compose  are 
ours  only  for  a  limited  period,  which  varies  in  different 
countries.  Yet  what  can  be  more  essentially  a  man's 
property  than  the  works  of  his  own  imagination  ?  Surely 
they  are  his  in  a  far  more  intimate  sense  than  the  goods 
and  chattels  that  he  inherits  from  his  forefathers.  True, 
says  the  modern  legislator,  but  it  is  for  the  good  of  the 
world  at  large  that  books,  music,  and  inventions  should 
eventually  become  public  property.  Undoubtedly,  but 
would  it  not  also  be  for  the  good  of  the  world  that 
the  wealth  of  our  millionaires  should  eventually  be 
absorbed  by  the  State?  However,  so  long  as  our  laws 
are  made  by  those  who  are  richer  in  money  than  in  brains 
the  millionaires  will  be  safe  and  the  authors,  composers, 
and  inventors  will  have  to  suffer.  Truly  the  phantom 
Property  leads  us  into  strange  passes ! 

But  to  return  to  Handel,  there  is  no  doubt  that  in  his 
own  day  no  one  thought  any  the  worse  of  him  for  taking 
his  own  wherever  he  found  it.  No  man  had  more 
enemies  than  Handel,  and  they  left  no  stone  unturned  in 
their  endeavours  to  ruin  him,  yet  not  one  of  them  ever 
made  his  habitual  borrowing  an  excuse  for  blackening 
his  character.  Even  his  old  enemy  Mattheson,  who  would 
have  been  only  too  pleased  to  injure  his  artistic  reputa- 
tion, writing  so  early  as  1722  refers  at  some  length  in 
his  Critica  Alusica  to  the  fact  that  Handel  used  a  tune 
borrowed  from  Mattheson's  own  Porsenna  in  his  Agrippina 
and  Muzio  Scevola.  Yet  there  is  no  trace  of  bitterness 
in  his  observations,  indeed  he  does  not  go  beyond  a  little 
mild  chaff  about  Handel's  excellent  memory.  Scheibe  in 
Der  Critische  Musikus  (1737)  remarks  :  "  Handel  has  often 
worked  out  not  only  his  own  thoughts  but  those  of  other 
people,  especially  of  Reinhard  Keiser,"  without  imputing 
any  suggestion  of  blame.  The  Abbe  Prevost,  who  lived 
in  London  for  several  years,  knew  all  about  Handel's 
borrowings.  In  Le  Four  et  le  Contre  (1733)  we  read : 
"  Ouelques  critiques   I'accusent   d'avoir  emprunte  le  fond 

348  HANDEL 

d'une  infinite  de  belles  choses  de  Lully  et  surtout  des 
cantates  fran9aises,  qu'il  a  I'adresse,  disent-ils,  de  deguiser 
a  ritalienne.  Mais  le  crime  serait  leger,  quand  il  serait 
certain."  Mr.  Robinson,  in  Handel  and  his  Orbit,  quotes 
many  additional  passages  which  prove  that  Handel's  use 
of  other  men's  music  was  no  secret  to  his  contemporaries. 
Moreover,  he  conclusively  establishes  the  fact  that  Handel 
not  only  took  no  pains  to  shroud  his  proceedings  in 
secrecy,  but  on  the  contrary  seems  to  have  gone  out  of 
his  way  to  advertise  them  to  all  whom  they  might 
concern.  But  the  best  summing-up  of  the  views  of  the 
eighteenth  century  upon  what  we  now  call  literary  larceny 
is  to  be  found  in  Byrom's  lines  on  the  famous  Milton- 
Lauder  controversy : — 

"  Crime  in  a  Poet,  sirs,  to  steal  a  Tiiought? 
No,  that  'tis  not,  if  it  be  good  for  aught. 
'Tis  lawful  Theft ;  'tis  laudable  to  boot ; 
'Tis  want  of  Genius  if  he  does  not  do't. 
The  Fool  admires,  the  Man  of  Sense  alone 
Lights  on  a  happy  Thought,  and  makes  it  all  his  own ; 

Flies  like  a  Bee  along  the  Muses'  Field, 

Peeps  in  and  tastes  what  any  Flow'r  can  yield — 

Free,  from  the  various  Blossoms  that  he  meets 

To  pick  and  cull  and  carry  Home  the  Sweets  ; 

While,  saunt'ring  out,  the  heavy  stingless  Drone 

Amidst  a  thousand  Sweets  makes  none  of  'em  his  own." 


Ach,    Herr,     mich     armett     Sunder 

(Handel),  13 
Aci,    Galatea  e   Polifemo    (Handel), 

43,  228,  232,  261,  269 
Acis  and  Galatea  (Handel),  82,  83, 

114,    117,    255,    267,   269,   270, 

Addison,  Joseph,  satirises  opera,  56  ; 

failure    of    his    Rosamond,    57 ; 

attacks    Rinaldo,     57,     58 ;    his 

opinion  of  librettos,  192 
Ademollo,  Agostino,  31,  46 
Admeto  (Handel),  100,  242,  337 
Agrippina  (Handel),   37  Jiote,  43,  46, 

222,  226-228,  260 
Aix-la-Chapelle,    Handel's    visit    to, 

141,  144;  Frederick  the  Great's 

opinion  of,    145 ;    rejoicings   for 

Peace  of,  200 
Alceste  (Handel),  206,  322 
Akhymist,  The  (Handel),  338 
Alcina  (Handel),  137,  222,  231,  251, 

Alessandro  (Handel),  98,  241,  242 
Alessandro  in  Persia,  165 
Alessandro  Severe  (Handel),  148 
Alexander  Balus  (Handel),  198,  316, 


Alexander' s  Feast  {J^2in.^&\\  136,  138, 
165,  186,  255,  274,  27s 

Allacci,  L.,  his  Dranimaturgia  re- 
ferred to,  29,  46 

Allegro  ed  il  Penseroso,  II  (Handel), 
157,  162,  164,  165,  255,  282, 

Almahide,  56,  57 

Almira  (Handel),  22,  221,  224,  225, 
228,  336 

Almira  (Keiser),  23 

Amadigi  (Handel),  70,  233-235,  252 

Amelia,  Princess,  Handel  appointed 
hermusic-master,75,84, 104;  pre- 
sent during  Faustina-Cuzzoniriot, 
loi  ;  quarrels  with  her  brother, 
125;  her  devotion  to  Handel, 
133  ;  present  at  celebration  of 
Peace  of  Aix-la-Chapelle,  201  ; 
at  performance  of  Theodora,  205 
Andrews,  Handel  stays  with,  at  Barn 

Elms,  67 
Anna   Maria    dei    Medici,    Electress 
Palatine,  raises  money  for  Gian 
Gastone,  25  ;   Handel  visits  her 
court,  49,  61  ;  her  character,  50 
Anne,    Princess   Royal,    Handel   ap- 
pointed   her    music-master,    75) 
84  ;  patronises  Handel's  operatic 
management,    108 ;    desirous   of 
seeing     Esther,     1 1 5  ;     quarrels 
with   her  brother,   125  ;   marries 
Prince    of    Orange,     132 ;     her 
devotion   to  Handel,   133  ;   per- 
suades Handel  to  take  Lincoln's 
Inn  Theatre,  134 
Anne,  Queen  of  England,  social  con- 
ditions  in    her   reign,    53 ;    her 
disapproval    of   the    stage,    55  5 
Handel    composes   Ode  for   her 
birthday,    69 ;    confers    pension 
upon  Handel,  70  ;  her  death,  70 
Annibali,  Domenico,  sings  for  Han- 
del, 140 
Ansbach,  Handel  visits,  77 
Anthems  (Handel) — 

Chandos,  82,  264-266 

Coronation,  105,  270-272 

Dettingen,  179,  307 

Foundling,  203 

Funeral,  147,  153,  275 

Wedding,  132,  138,  274,  275 



Antiochus  (Gasparini),  69 
Arbuthnot,   John,   meets    Handel   at 
Burlington  House,  67  ;  satirises 
opera   scandal   in   The  Devil  to 
■tay  at  St.  James'' s,   102  ;  attacks 
Beggar's   Opera,     106 ;    defends 
Handel  in  Harmony  in  an   Up- 
roar,   128 ;    criticises    Senesino, 
130  ;  his  opinion  of  Handel,  173 
Arcadian  Academy,  35,  43,  258 
Ariadne    (Handel),    130,    134,    249, 

Ariadne  (Porpora),  130 
Ariodattte  (Handel),    134,  250,  251, 

Ariosti,  Attilio,  his  legendary  meeting 
with  Handel  at  Berlin,  9  ;  Rolli's 
epigram  on,  9  7tote  ;   appointed 
musical   director  of  Royal  Aca- 
demy of  Music,  86  ;  act  of  Ahizio 
Scevola  wrongly  attributed  to  him, 
90  ;  epigram  on  his  music,  1 00 
Armida  (Gluck),  231,  252 
Arminio  (Handel),  140,  253 
Arne,    Thomas,    performs    Handel's 

Acis  and  Galatea,  1 17,  346 
Arsinoc  (Clayton),  55 
Astarto  (Bononcini),  89,  237 
Astyanax  (Bononcini),  100 
Atalanta  (Handel),  138,  252 
Athaliah   (Handel),    127,    132,    136, 

273.  274,  302 

Augusta,  Princess  of  Wales,  her 
marriage,  138 ;  present  at 
Handel's  rehearsals,  181  ;  at 
celebration  of  Peace  of  Aix-la- 
Chapelle,  201  ;  at  Foundling 
Hospital,  203 

Augustus,  of  Saxony,  Duke,  appoints 
Handel's  father  his  private  sur- 
geon, 2  ;  his  court  at  Halle,  ib. 

Avolio,  Signora,  arrives  in  Dublin, 
162,  163  ;  sings  in  Messiah,  167- 

Babell,  William,  Handel  praises  his 
playing,  60 

Bach,  Johann  Sebastian,  tries  to 
meet  Handel  at  Halle,  87  ;  van- 
quishes Marchand  at  Dresden, 
ib.  ;  invites  Handel  to  Leipzig, 
1 10 ;  his  interview  with  Frederick 

the    Great,   145  ;    his  Christinas 
Oratorio,  269 ;  his  sacred  music 
compared   with   Handel's,    263- 
265,  285,  298,  300,  333 
Bagpipes,  imitated  by  Handel,  282, 

Baily,  James,  sings  in  Messiah,  168 

Baker, ,  recommends  singers  to 

Handel,  161 
Baldassarri,   Benedetto,    engaged   by 

Handel,  86 
Banister,    John,    plays    at    Britton's 

concerts,  60 
Beard,  John,  sings  for  Handel,  136, 
191  ;     Walpole's     criticism     of, 
175;    his   marriage,    175,    176; 
his  singing  in  Samson,  213 
Beattie,  James,  his  anecdote  of  The 
Messiah,  177  ;  his  view  of  Han- 
del's religious  belief,  219 
Beethoven,    Ludwig     van,     Handel 

compared  with,  335 
Beggar's  Opera,  77ie  {Gd.y),  106,  112, 

158,  162 
Belshazzar  (Handel),  182,   185,   187, 

312,  313 
Bentley,  Richard,  of  Nailston,  151 
Bentley,  Thomas,  151  note 
Berenice  (Handel),  140,  253 
Berlin,  Handel's  visit  to,  7 
Bernacchi,  Antonio,  no,  iii,  114 
Bertolli,  Francesca,  in 
Binitz,  von,  takes  Handel  to  Italy, 

Bonlini,    G.    C,    references    to    his 

Glorie  delta  Poesia,  43  note,  46 
Bononcini,  Giovanni  Maria,  his 
legendary  meeting  with  Handel 
at  Berlin,  9  ;  appointed  musical 
director  of  Royal  Academy  of 
Music,  86 ;  production  of  his 
Astarto,  89 ;  collaborates  with 
Handel  in  Muzio  Scevola,  90 ; 
production  of  his  Crispo  and 
Griselda,  ib.  ;  dismissed  by 
Royal  Academy,  93  ;  patronised 
by  Duchess  of  Marlborough,  ib.  ; 
production  of  his  Farnace  and 
Calfitrnia,  ib.  ;  Byrom's  epigram 
on,  94  ;  production  of  his  Asty- 
anax, 100;  attacks  Handel  in 
Advice  to  Composers,   107  ;  per- 



forms   serenata   at    opera-house, 
118;  leaves  England  in  disgrace, 
131,    346 ;   furnishes   melody  of 
Handel's  last  composition,  216  ; 
his   influence   on    Handel,    230, 
237,  238 
Bononcini,  Marcantonio,  his  Caniilla 
performed    in   London,  55,   56 ; 
Duke    of    Manchester    tries    to 
bring  him  to   London,   55 ;    his 
Etearco  produced  in  London,  56 
Bordoni,  Faustina.     See  Faustina 
Borosini,  Francesco,  96,  239 
Boschi,  Giuseppe,  48,  86 
Bradshaw,  Mrs.,  letter  on  "  smock- 
runs,"  103 
Bristol,   Elizabeth,  Countess   of,  her 
description  of  Cuzzoni,  93  ;  refers 
to    Bononcini's    dismissal,     ib.  ; 
letter  on  opera,  130 
Brookes,  Barthold,  77,  263 
Britton,  Thomas,  his  concerts,  60 
Brook  Street,  Handel's  house  in,  88 
Broughton,  Thomas,  309 
Brown,  Lady,  her  hostility  to  Han- 
del, 184 
Burlington,  Dorothy,  Countess  of,  99 
Burlington,  Juliana,  Countess  of,  69 
Burlington,  Richard,  Earl  of,  Handel 
stays    with,    67  ;    celebrated    by 
Gay,  68  ;  invites  Pope  to  Chis- 
wick,    ib.  ;    Teseo   dedicated    to 
him,  69 ;    reconciles   Handel  to 
George  i,  73  ;   Handel  plays  at 
his  house,  214 
Burney,    Charles,    his    reference    to 
Corelli's  technique,  40  ;  to  Sene- 
sino,  89  Jiote ;    to  Cuzzoni,   92  ; 
to    Strada,    no,    in    iwfe ;    to 
Caffarelli,  148  ;  to  Handel's  visit 
to  Chester,   161  ;    to  Quin's  ac- 
count of  T/ie  Messiah,   167  ;  to 
Dubourg,  170;  to  Mrs.   Cibber, 
175;    to   Handel's   behaviour  at 
rehearsal,      181  ;      anecdote     of 
Handel's  impetuosity,   196  ;   de- 
scription of  Handel's  appearance, 
205 ;      reference     to      Theodora, 
206 ;  to  Handel's  playing  when 
blind,  213  ;    to  Handel's  death, 
217;    to    Handel's    organ   con- 
certos, 333 

Butler,  Samuel,  his  note  on  Hercules, 
309 ;  on  Handel's  harpsichord 
suites,  328 ;  on  Handel's  sixth 
fugue,  ib. 

Byrom,  John,  his  epigram  on  Handel 
and  Bononcini,  94 ;  lines  on 
Italian  opera,  96 ;  reference  to 
Figg,  the  prize-fighter,  103  ; 
description  of  first  night  of  Hnrlo- 
thriunbo,  1 12;  lines  on  Milton- 
Lauder  controversy,  348 

Caduta   dei    Giganti,    La    (Gluck), 


Caffarelli,  148 

Caio  Fabrizio,  130 

Caldara,  Antonio,  35 

Calfurnia  (Bononcini),  93 

Calypso  (Galliard),  64 

Camilla  (Bononcini),  55)  S6,  86 

Canons,  built  by  Duke  of  Chandos, 

79;   its  chapel,  80;  organ,  81 ; 

opening  of  chapel,  83 
Cantatas  (Handel),  40,  43,  232 
Carestini,     Giovanni,     engaged      by 

Handel,    129;    his   voice,    130; 

Lady  Bristol's   opinion   of,   ib.  ; 

sings  in  A?'iodante,  134  ;  quarrels 

with  Handel,   137  ;  leaves  Eng- 
land, ib.  ;  his  singing  in  Ariadite, 

Carey,  Henry,  attacks  Beggar  s  Opera, 

106  ;  parodies  opera  in  Dragon 

ofWantley,  141 
Carissimi,  Giacomo,  257-259 
Carlton  House,  Handel  at,  181 
Caroline,  Queen,  her  friendship  with 

Handel,    62  ;    her    singing,  ib.  ; 

confers  pension  on  Handel,  75  ; 

present   at    opera-house    during 

Faustina-Cuzzoni       riot,       102 ; 

support's  Handel's   opera,   131  ; 

death,    145  ;    George    ii's    grief 

for,  146  ;  Handel  writes  Funeral 

Anthem  for,  147 
Caroline,  Princess,  Handel  appointed 

her  music-master,   75;  84,    104 ; 

her  devotion  to  Handel,  133 
Cavalieri,  Emilio  del,  257 
Chalumeaux,  Handel's  use  of,  243 
Chamber  Duets  (Handel),    62,   291, 

292,  295 



Chandos,  Henry,  2nd  Duke  of,  his 
romantic  marriage,  8i 

Chandos,  James,  ist  Duke  of,  builds 
Canons,  79 ;  engages  Pcpusch 
as  musical  director,  81  ;  engages 
Handel,  82,  264  ;  his  adventure 
with  highwaymen,  85 

Chandos  Anthems,  (Handel),  82, 

Chandos  Te  Deum,  (Handel),  82, 

Chansons  (Handel),  43 

Charles  Edward,  Prince,  his  rebellion, 
189,  313,  314 

Cheltenham,  Handel's  visits  to,  188, 

Chester,  Handel's  visit  to,  161 

Chesterfield,  Melusina,  Countess  of. 
See  Schulenburg 

Chesterfield,  Philip  Dormer,  Earl  of, 
his  wager  with  Heidegger,  65  ; 
his  epigram  on  Handel's  ora- 
torios, 180 

Chimenti,  139 

Choice  of  Hercules,  The  (Handel), 
216,  321,  322 

Christmas  Oratorio  (Bach),  261 

Chrysander,  Friedrich,  references  to 
his  biography  of  Handel,  31,  37, 
43  note,  74  note ;  to  his  edition 
of  Handel's  works,  6,  13 

Cibber,  Susannah  Maria,  in  Dublin, 
162  ;  sings  in  The  Messiah,  167- 
169  ;  Dr.  Delany's  tribute  to  her 
singing,  169  note;  Walpole's 
criticism  of,  175 

Clarinet,  Handel's  use  of,  240 

Clayton,  Thomas,  55,  57 

Clement  ix,  Pope,  258 

Cleopatra  (Mattheson),  19,  21 

Clotilda  (Conti),  57 

Cobham,  Anne,  Viscountess,  supports 
Handel,  180 

Coke,  Lady  Jane,  letter  on  celebration 
of  Peace  of  Aix-la-Chapelle,  200 

Colombo  (Ottoboni),  34 

Colonna,  Cardinal,  Handel  plays  at 
his  house,  33,  339 ;  tries  to 
introduce  Handel  to  Pretender, 

Compton,  Lady  Elizabeth,  reference 
to  Beard,  136 

Concertos  (Handel) — 
Grand,  332 

Hautboy,  62,  331,  332 
Organ,  136,  333-335 

Concerts,  in  London,  59 

Conforto,  Domenico,  42 

Congreve,  William,  307 

Cope,  Sir  John,  189 

Corelli,  Arcangelo,  meets  Handel,  35  ; 
admitted  to  Arcadian  Academy, 
ib.  ;  scene  with  Handel,  40 

Coronation  Anthems  (Handel),  105, 

Cosmo  III,  Grand  Duke  of  Tuscany, 

Cowper,  Lady,  her  diary  quoted,  54, 

Craftsman,  The,  publishes  lampoon 
on  Walpole  and  Handel,  120 

Crispo  (Bononcini),  90 

Critic,  The  (Sheridan),  250 

Cumberland,  William,  Duke  of, 
birth,  90 ;  Judas  Maccabceus 
written  in  his  honour,  192,  314; 
gives  Morell  a  present,  193 ; 
present  at  celebration  of  Peace  of 
Aix-la-Chapelle,  201  ;  pardons 
Servandoni,  202 

Cuzzoni,  Francesca,  appears  with 
Vittoria  Tesi  in  Daplme,  31  ; 
makes  her  English  debut,  91  ; 
her  appearance,  voice,  and 
character,  92 ;  sings  English 
ballads,  93  ;  her  triumphs  in 
Handel's  operas,  96 ;  appears 
with  Faustina,  98 ;  rivalry 
between  them,  99  ;  causes  riots 
in  opera-house,  100-104  5  sings 
at  King's  Theatre,  1 34 ;  re- 
appears in  England,  and  sings  in 
Messiah,  207  ;  death,  208 

Deborah   (Handel),    119,     120,    136, 

254,  271-273,  302,  337 
Defesch,  William,  191 
Defoe,    Daniel,    his    description    of 

Canons,  79,  80 
Deida7nia  (Handel),  158,  222,  254 
Delany,    Dr.,    his    tribute    to    Mrs. 

Gibber's      singing,      169     note, 

present  at  rehearsal  of  Dettingen 

Te  Deum,  179 



Delany,  Mary,  meets  Handel  as  a 
child,  59  ;  her  description  of  a 
water-parly,  73  note  ;  of  Cuzzoni's 
singing,  92  ;  refers  to  dismissal 
of  Bononcini,  93 ;  describes 
Riccardo,  105 ;  and  Beggar  s 
Opera,  106 ;  criticises  Lotarto, 
112  ;  Handel  plays  at  her  house, 
133,  136,  140;  descnhts  Akina, 
137  ;  mentions  Pasquin  to  Swift, 
139;  letters  on  opera,  139,  142  ; 
criticises  Beard,  175  ;  present  at 
rehearsal  of  Dettingen  Te  Detun, 
179;  criticises  ^■^we/^,  179,  180; 
describes  Joseph,  182  ;  refers  to 
Handel's  blindness,  212 

Dent,  E.  J.,  references  to  his 
biography  of  Scarlatti,  35,  36, 
40-42,  228-230,  257 

De  Quincey,  Thomas,  his  description 
of  Coronation  Anthem,  270 

Dettingen,  victory  of,  178 

Dettingen  Anthem  (Handel),  179, 

Dettingen    Te  Deum  (Handel),   179, 

275.  307 
Devil   to   pay   at   St.  James's,    The 

(Arbuthnot),  102 
Devonshire,   William,   4th   Duke  of, 

invites  Handel  to  Ireland,  160 
Dido  and  yiEneas  (Purcell),  246,  319 
Dionisio  (Perti),  36 
Dixit  Dominus  (Handel),    32,  229, 

Dodington,    George    Bubb,    his    de- 
scription   of    Prince   Frederick's 

funeral,  215 
Dragon   of   IVantley,    'I he  (Lampe), 

141,  158 
Dresden,  Handel's  visit  to,  86-SS 
Dublin,  Handel's  visit  to,  160-172 
Dubourg,  Matthew,  teaches  the  violin 

to    Prince  Frederick,    126,   329  ; 

established  in  Dublin,  162,  163  ; 

performs  in  Messiah,   167,   168 ; 

story     of     his     cadenza,      1 70 ; 

Handel's  sonatas  composed  for, 

Du  Breil,  dances  in  Rinaldo,  57 
Duets  (Handel),  62,  291,  292,  295 
Durastanti,      Francesca,      sings      in 

Agrippina,  47  ;  George  I  stands 


godfather  to  her  son,  71  ; 
engaged  by  Handel,  86 ;  her 
singing  not  a  success,  91  ;  sings 
with  Carestini,  130 
Dtisseldorf,  Handel's  visits  to,  49, 
61,  86 

Earthquakes,       Handel's       concerts 

affected  by,  204 
Elbing,    Handel   writes   cantata   for, 

Elmiro  (Pallavicino),  43  note 
Encores,  by-law  forbidding,  71 
Erba  Magnificat,  45  note,  345 
Ei-losung    des     Volks     Gottes,     Die 

(Handel),  13 
Ernest  Augustus,  of  Hanover,  Prince, 

meets   Handel    at    Venice,    36 ; 

invites  him  to  Hanover,  39 
Esther   (Handel),    81-83,     Ii4-ii7> 

136,     165,    267-269,    271,    302, 


Etearco  (Bononcini),  56 
Ezio  (Handel),  114,  246 

Fabri,  Annibale,  no,  iii,  114 
Fabrice,  Kammerherr  van,  39,  90 
Faramondo  (Handel),  147  note,   148, 

.  253. 
Farinelli,  Handel  hears  him  in  Italy, 
129  ;  engaged  by  the  "  Opera  of 
the  Nobility,"  133  ;  infatuation 
for,  139;  sings  in  Porpora's 
Festa  ahneneo,  ib.  ;  his  vogue 
declines,    ib. ;    leaves    England, 

Farnace  (Bononcini),  93 

Faustina  [Bordoni],  engaged  by 
Royal  Academy  of  Music,  97  ; 
appears  in  Alessandro,  98 ; 
rivalry  with  Cuzzoni,  99 ;  cause 
of  riots  at  opera-Jiouse,  100-104 

Ferdinand  dei  Medici,  Prince,  his 
court  at  Florence,  27  ;  Handel 
introduced  to,  28  ;  his  friendship 
with  Scarlatti,  and  opinion  of  his 
music,  28,  225 ;  gives  Handel 
service  of  porcelain,  29 ; 
Merlini's  letter  to,  32,  339  ; 
produces  Perti's  Dionisio,  36 ; 
his  illness  and  recovery,  45 

Festa  d Ivieneo,  La  (Porpora),  139 



Fidelia  (Beethoven),  Rodelinda  com- 
pared with,  241 

Fielding,  Henry,  his  Pasqiiin  pro- 
duced, 139;  description  of  ora- 
torio performance  in  Amelia,  194 

Figg,  J.,  his  prize-fighting  "Acad- 
emy," 103 

Fireworks  INIusic  (Handel),  200-202, 

FitzGerald,  Edward,  his  remarks  on 
Handel's  wig,  181  ;  on  "He 
layeth  the  beams,"  241  ;  on 
Handel's  paganism,  255  ;  on  Acis 
and  Galatea,  269 ;  on  the  char- 
acter of  Handel's  music,  270,  338 

Flavio  (Handel),  95,  238 

Flemming,  Count  von,  87 

P'lorence,  Handel's  visits  to,  27,  30, 
36,  44 

Floridante  (Handel),  90,  237,  238 

Florindo  tmd  Dap/uic  (Handel),  26 

Foundling  Anthem  (Handel),  203 

Foundling  Hospital,  Fireworks  Music 
performed  at,  202 ;  Handel's 
munificence  to,  203 ;  perform- 
ances of  Messiah  at,  203,  208 

Fountayne,  Rev.  Mr.,  315 

Francesina,  148,  191 

Franz,  Robert,  his  additional  ac- 
companiments to  Messiah,  296 

Frasi,  Giulia,  196,  197 

Frederick  I,  King  of  Prussia,  his 
court  at  Berlin,  7  ;  wishes  to 
send  Handel  to  Italy,  10 

Frederick  il,  the  Great,  King  of 
Prussia,  story  of  his  message  to 
Handel,  144;  his  opinion  of 
Aix-la-Chapelle,  145  ;  his  inter- 
view with  Bach,  ib. 

Frederick,  Prince  of  Wales,  his 
popularity,  125;  his  quarrels 
with  his  family,  ih.  ;  his  hostility 
to  Handel,  126;  takes  violin 
lessons  from  Dubourg,  126,  329  ; 
instrumental  in  founding  "Opera 
of  Nobility,"  126  ;  supports  it 
strongly,  131  ;  his  marriage, 
138  ;  reconciled  to  Handel,  ib.  ; 
joins  anti-Walpolian  mob,  155  ; 
Samson  dedicated  to  him,  174  ; 
his  friendship  with  Handel,  180, 
181  ;     recommends     Morell     to 

Handel,  193;  present  at  celebra- 
tion of  Peace  of  Aix-la-Chapelle, 
201  ;  at  Foundling  Hospital, 
203 ;  bails  Cuzzoni,  208 ;  his 
death,  214 

Frost  Fair,  156 

Funeral  Anthem  (Handel),  147,  153, 

Galliard,  John  Ernest,  64 
Galuppi,  Baldassarre,  165 
Gasparini,  Francesco,  37,  69 
Gates,  Bernard,  gives  performance  of 

Esther  at  his  house,  83,  1 15 
Gay,  John,  his  description  of  Mohock 
frolics,    53  ;    meets    Handel    at 
Burlington    House,    67  ;      cele- 
brates Lord  Burlington  in  Trivia, 

68  ;  and  in  A  Journey  to  Exeter, 

69  ;  writes  libretto  of  Acis  and 
Galatea,  83  ;  letter  to  Swift  on 
music,  94 ;  produces  Beggar  s 
Opera,  106 ;  difficulties  over 
Polly,  112 

Geminiani,  Francesco,  his  story  of 
Corelli,  40 ;  plays  at  court  of 
George  i,  74 

German  Songs  (Handel),  62 

George  i,  King  of  England,  appoints 
Handel  Kapellmeister  at 
Hanover,  49 ;  his  correspond- 
ence with  Elector  Palatine, 
62  ;  succeeds  to  English  throne, 
70;  his  fondness  for  opera,  71  ; 
reconciled  to  Handel,  74  ; 
confers  pension  upon  him,  75  ; 
his  dislike  of  England,  ib.  ;  visits 
Hanover,  76  ;  returns  to  London, 
78  ;  death,  104 

George  11,  King  of  England,  Handel 
introduced  to,  49  ;  his  behaviour 
at  Heidegger's  masquerade,  66 ; 
proclaimed  King,  104 ;  his 
coronation,  105 ;  supports 
Handel's  opera,  131  ;  his 
admiration  for  The  Dragon 
of  Wantley,  141  ;  his  grief  at 
death  of  Queen  Caroline,  146  ; 
present  at  first  London  per- 
formance of  Messiah,  177 ;  his 
victory  at  Dettingen,  178; 
supports      Handel's      oratorios, 



1 80 ;  his  view  of  Jacobite 
rebellion,  189;  present  at 
celebration  of  Peace  of  Aix-la- 
Chapelle,  201 

Gibson,  Edmund,  Bishop  of  London, 

Giovanni  Gastone  dei  Medici, 
Prince,  meets  Handel  at 
Hamburg,  23 ;  visits  Florence, 
26 ;  introduces  Handel  to 
Prince  Ferdinand,  28  ;  present  at 
thanksgiving  service  in  Florence, 

Giuho  Cesare  (Handel),  95,  238,  239 
Giustino  (Handel),  140,  222,  253 
Gizziello,  sings  at  Covent  Garden,  140 
Gluck,      Christoph     Willibald    von, 
writes  Cadtita  dei  Gigatiti,  195  ; 
Handel's   opinion    of,    ib.  ;    his 
visit  to  Handel,  ib.  ;  his  venera- 
tion    for     Handel,      196 ;     his 
Armida  compared  with  Kinaldo, 
231  ;    his    Iphigenia    in    Tauris 
compared  with  Admeto,  242 
Goethe,    J.    W.    von,    his    Rinaldo 
compared  with  Handel's  Alcina, 
Goldsmith,  Oliver,    his   reference   to 

minuet  in  Ariadne,  250 
Gopsall,     Handel     stays     at,     150; 
tradition  that  Handel's  oratorios 
were  composed  at,  151 
Gordon,    his    quarrel   with    Handel, 


Gosport,  Canons  organ  now  at,  81 
Grand  Concertos  (Handel),  332 
Granville,  Bernard,  215,  217 
Greber,      Giacomo,     his     Loves     of 

Ergasto  produced,  55 
Greene,     Maurice,    his    civilities    to 
Handel,    67,    262 ;     organist   of 
Chapel  Royal,  97,  104;  satirised 
in  Harmony  in  an  Uproar,  129 
Grimani,    Vincenzo,     Cardinal,     ap- 
pointed Viceroy  of  Naples,  41  ; 
patronises   Handel,    43 ;    writes 
libretto  of  Agrippitta,  ib. 
Griselda  (Bononcini),  90,  91 
Guernsey,     Lord,     Handel's    esteem 

for,  171 
Guns,    introduced    by    Handel    into 
Judas  MaccabcEus,  197 

Halle,  Handel  born  at,  2 ;  court 
life  at,  ib.  ;  Handel's  visits  to, 
26,  49,  63,  77,  87,  no; 
Handel  matriculates  at  Uni- 
versity of,  II;  Bach's  visit  to,  87 

Hallelujah  Chorus,  origin  of  custom 
of  standing  during  performance 
of,  177  ;  Handel's  opinion  of, 
205,  321  ;  his  feelings  while 
.  composing,  219 ;  compared  to 
Bach's  Sanctiis,  298,  300 

Hamburg,  musical  conditions  at,  15; 
Handel  arrives  at,  16 ;  leaves 
26  ;  subsequent  visit  to,  in 

Hamilton,  Newburgh,  writes  libretto 
oi  Sainson,  174,  303 

Handel,  Dorothea,  see  Taust, 

Handel,  George,  appointed  surgeon 
to  Duke  Augustus  of  Saxony,  2  ; 
discourages  his  son's  musical 
tendency,  4 ;  takes  him  to 
Weissenfels,  ib.  ;  and  to  Berlin, 
7  ;  his  death,  1 1 

Handel,  George  Frederick — 
his  birth  (1685),  2  ;  early  inclina- 
tion for  music,  3  ;  visits  Weissen- 
fels (1692),  4  ;  studies  with  Zac- 
how,  5  ;  visits  Berlin  (1696),  7  ; 
legendary  encounter  with  Bonon- 
cini, 9 ;  matriculates  at  Halle 
University  (1702),  11  ;  appointed 
organist  of  Schlosskirche,  12 ; 
leaves  Halle  (1703),  14  ;  arrives  at 
Hamburg,  16  ;  makes  friends  with 
Mattheson,  17  ;  his  talent  for  im- 
provisation, 18  note  ;  quarrels  with 
Mattheson,  19  ;  produces  hisyis/^tt 
Passion  (1704),  21  ;  produces 
Ahnira,  (1705),  22  ;  meets  Gian 
Gastone  dei  Meditri,  23  ;  produces 
Nero,  23 ;  and  Florindo  und 
Daphne,  26;  leaves  Hamburg 
(1706),  ib.  ;  arrives  at  Florence, 

28  ;    produces    Rodrigo    (1707), 

29  ;  arrives  at  Rome,  32,  209 ; 
introduced  to  Cardinal  Ottoboni, 
33  ;  visits  Venice,  36 ;  meets  Prince 
Ernest  Augustus,  36,  38 ;  meets 
Domenico  Scarlatti,  38,  339 ; 
returns    to    Rome    (1708),    38 ; 



composes       Resurrezioite       and  j 
Trionfo    del    Tempo,    40 ;     his 
encounter     with      Corelli,     ib.  ; 
visits     Naples,     41  ;     composes 
Aci,    Galatea   e    Polifemo,    43 ;  ' 
returns    to    Rome    (1709),    44;  1 
second     visit     to     Venice,     46 ;  ] 
production    of    Agripphia,    ib.  ; 
meets     Kielmansegg,     48 ;     ac- 
companies    him     to     Hanover 
(1710),    49 ;    appointed   Kapell- 
meister      there,        49 ;       visits 
DUsseldorf,      49 ;        arrives     in 
London,     51,      261  ;     produces 
Rinaldo   (171 1 ),    57  ;     plays  at 
Thomas   Britton's,    61  ;    returns 
to    Hanover,    ib.  ;    visits   Halle, 

63  ;  his  second  visit  to  London 
(1712),  63 ;  produces  Pastor 
Fido,    64 ;     and     Teseo    (1713)) 

64  ;  stays  with  Lord  Burlington, 
67  ;  plays  St.  Paul's  organ,  ib.  ; 
writes  Birthday  Ode  and  Utrecht 
Te  Deum,  69 ;  produces  Silla 
(1714)  and  Amadigi  (1715),  70, 
78  ;  composes  Water  Music,  73  ; 
reconciled  to  George  I,  74  ; 
accompanies  him  to  Hanover 
(1716),  76 ;  composes  Brockes 
Passion,  77  ;  visits  Ansbach,  ib.  ; 
returns  to  England  (1717),  78  ; 
appointed  musical  director  at 
Canons  (1718),  82;  writes 
Chandos  Anthems  and  TeDeuni, 
82 ;  appointed  musical  director 
of  Royal  Academy  of  music 
(1719),  86;  goes  to  Germany, 
86  ;  misses  Bach  at  Halle,  87  ; 
returns  to  London  (1720),  88  ; 
composes  Esther,  Acis  and 
Galatea,  and  Suites  de  Pieces,  84 ; 
produces  Radamisto,  88  ;  colla- 
borates with  Bononcini  and 
Mattei  in  Muzio  Scevola  (1721), 
90 ;  produces  Floridante,  ib.  ; 
engages  Cuzzoni  (1722),  91  ; 
produces  Ottone  (1723),  ib.  ; 
his  quarrel  with  Cuzzoni,  92 ; 
Byrom's  epigram  on,  94  ;  pro- 
duces Flavio,  95  ;  his  encounter 
with  Gordon,  ib.  ;  produces 
Giulio      Cesare      (1724),      ib.  ; 

Tanierlano,       96  ;        Rodelinda 
(1725),  ib.  ;   and    Scipio  (1726), 
ib.  ;    becomes    naturalised,    97  ; 
appointed      composer      to      the 
Chapel     Royal,    ib.  ;     produces 
Alessandro,  98  ;  doggerel  verses 
on,  ib.  ;  produces  ^^wi5/'o(  1727), 
100 ;      composes     minuets     for 
court   ball,     104 ;    and   anthems 
for  George  ll's  coronation,  105  ; 
produces  Riccardo,  ib.  ;   Bonon- 
cini's  attack  on,   107  ;    produces 
Siroe   (1728)  and    Tolomeo,  ib.  ; 
collapse   of   Royal   Academy   of 
Music,    ib.  ;     partnership    with 
Heidegger,     108 ;     visits    Italy, 
ib.  ;     and    Halle    (1729),     no; 
declines  invitation  to  visit  Bach, 
ib.  ;    returns   to    London,    in  ; 
produces  Lotario,  ib.  ;  and  Parte- 
nope    (1730),     113;    reorganises 
his    company,     114;      produces 
Poro   (1731),    Ezio    {1732),    and 
Sosa7-f?ie,  ib.  ;  revival  of  Esther, 
115;     and    of    Acis,    117;    his 
subscribers       rebellious,       118 
produces    Orlando   (1733),    and 
Deborah,     119;     anti-Handelian 
lampoon  appears   in  Craftsman, 
120;     hostility     of      Prince     of 
Wales,        125 ;        rival       opera 
organised,    126 ;    Handel    visits 
Oxford,  127  ;  produces  .4//ia//a/^, 
ib.  ;    returns    to    London,    128 ; 
his  enemies  exposed  in  Harmony 
in  an  Uproar,  ib.  ;  trip  to  Italy, 
129;     engages     Carestini,    ib.  ; 
produces   Ariadne  (1734),    130  ; 
writes      anthem      for      Princess 
Anne's  wedding,   132  ;    produces 
Parnasso  in  Festa,  ib.  ;  plays  at 
Mrs.  Delany's,    133,    136,   140 ; 
opens   season   at   Lincoln's    Inn 
Fields,    134 ;   moves   to   Covent 
Garden,    ib.  ;    produces    Terpsi- 
cho7-e,     Orestes,     and   Ariodante 
(1735))    ib.  ;    performs   oratorios 
and    concertos,     136 ;    produces 
Alcina,      137  ;      quarrels      with 
Carestini,    ib.  ;    produces   Alex- 
ander s    Feast    (1736) ;     writes 
anthem    for    Prince   of  Wales's 



wedding,  138;  produces 

Atalanta,  ib.  ;  and  Ar>?iiiiio 
(^737)>  Giustino,  and  Berenice, 
140  ;  revises  Triofifo  del  Tempo, 
ib.  ;  his  health  breaks  down, 
140 ;  declared  bankrupt,  141  ; 
goes  to  Aix-la-Chapelle,  ib.  ; 
restored  to  health,  144  ;  writes 
cantata  for  Elbing,  ib.  ;  legend- 
ary story  relating  to  Frederick  the 
Great,  ib.  ;  plays  the  organ  in 
Flanders,  145;  returns  to  London, 
ib.  ;  composes  Funeral  Anthem, 
147  ;  agrees  to  write  operas  for 
Heidegger,  ib.  ;  produces  Fara- 
viondo  (1738),  Serse,  and  Ales- 
sajidro  Severo,  1 48;  takes  a 
benefit,  ib.  ;  composes  ^a«/,  149  ; 
his  friendship  with  Jennens,  148- 
151  ;  composes  Israel  in  Egypt, 
151  ;  produces  Saul  and  Israel 
(1739),  152  ;  Jupiter  in  Argos, 
153  ;  and  Ode  for  St.  Cecilia's 
i^c^y^  155  >  composes  L' Allegro 
(1740),  157  ;  produces  Imeiteo 
and  Deidamia  (1741),  158;  his 
visit  to  Dublin,  160;  leaves 
London,  161  ;  stays  at  Chester, 
ib.  ;  arrives  at  Dublin,  162  ;  his 
concerts  there,  162,  165 ; 
rehearsal  of  Messiah  (1742), 
166 ;  production  of  Messiah, 
167;  returns  to  London,  170; 
produces  Samson  (1743),  174; 
produces  Messiah  in  London, 
177  ;  writes  Dettingen  TeDeu/n, 
179;  produces  Semele  (1744), 
179  ;  holds  rehearsal  at  Carlton 
House,  181  ;  produces  Joseph, 
ib.  ;  composes  Belshazzar,  182  ; 
bitter  feeling  against  him,  1S3  ; 
failure  of  his  concerts,  1S5  ; 
produces  Hercules  (174S)  and 
Belshazzar,  ib.  ;  his  health 
affected,  ib.  ;  declared  a  bank- 
rupt, 187  ;  produces  Occasiottal 
Oratorio  (1746),  191  ;  znA  Judas 
MaccabcEtis  (1747),  192  ;  Mo- 
rell's  description  of  Handel's 
method  of  working,  ib.  ; 
Handel's  music  becomes 
fashionable,    194 ;    he  abandons 

subscription  performances,  ib.  ; 
his  meeting  with  Gluck,  195  ; 
Burney's  experience  of  his 
impetuosity,  196 ;  Handel  and 
Frasi,  197  ;  supposed  noisiness 
of  his  music,  197  ;  produces 
Alexander  Balus  (1748),  198; 
diXiA  Joshua,  ib.  ;  his  opinion  of 
"See,  the  conquering  hero 
comes,"  199  ;  produces  Susanna 
(ly^g)  cLiid  Solomon,  199;  writes 
Fireworks  Music,  200 ;  his 
opinion  of  the  "serpent,"  202; 
his  generosity  to  Foundling  Hos- 
pital, 203  ;  his  concerts  affected 
by  earthquakes  (1750),  204; 
produces  Theodora,  205  ; 
Burney's  description  of  Handel's 
smile,  ib.  ;  composes  Alceste 
and  Choice  of  Hercules,  ib.  ; 
goes  abroad,  and  is  hurt  in 
accident,         207  ;  befriends 

Cuzzoni,  ib.  ;  his  eyesight  fails, 
208 ;  produces  Jephtha  (1752), 
208 ;  compared  to  Pitt,  209 ; 
his  growing  blindness,  212 ; 
complete  loss  of  sight  (1753), 
ib.  ;  continues  his  concerts  with 
Smith's  assistance,  213;  calls 
in  Stanley's  aid,  214;  pecuniary 
success  of  his  oratorios,  215  ; 
produces  Triumph  of  Time  and 
Truth,  (1757),  215  ;  revision  of 
Solomon  and  Susanna  {1759), 
216  ;  his  quarrel  with  Schmidt, 
ib.  ;  last  illness,  death,  and 
funeral,  217 ;  his  personal 
appearance,  218  ;  character,  ib.  ; 
and  religious  views,  219;  his 
use  of  Siciliani,  228  ;  Scarlatti's 
influence  upon  him,  228,  229 ; 
his  recitative  compared  with 
Purcell's,  229 ;  Steffani's  and 
Bononcini's  influence  upon  him, 
230,  237,  238  ;  his  Rinaldo 
compared  with  Gluck's  Armida, 
231  ;  his  use  of  horns,  237,  239  ; 
his  Admeto  compared  with  Gluck's 
Iphigenia  in  Tauris,  242  ;  his 
orchestration,  243,  277,  288, 
293)  316 ;  his  style  influenced 
by  Vinci  and    Hasse,   244 ;    his 



interest  in  street-cries,  254  ;  his 
oratorio  style,  236,  261,  262  ; 
compared  to  Bach,  263-265,  285, 
298,  300 ;  contemporary  view 
of  his  music,  274  ;  his  allusions 
to  bagpipes,  282,  314;  his  view 
of  Christianity,  286 ;  his  view 
of  chastity,  305  ;  his  lack  of 
false  pride,  315  ;  his  organ-play- 
ing, 333  ;  compared  with  Beeth- 
oven, 335  ;  his  indebtedness  to 
other  composers,  344 

Operas  and  other  Dramatic 

Admelo,  100,  242,  337 
Agrippina,  yj    note,   43,  46,    222, 

226-228,  260 
Alcesle,  206,  322 
A/chyinisf,   The,  338 
Ahina,  137,  222,  231,  251,  252 
Alessandro,  98,  241,  242 
Alessattdro  Severo,  148 
Almira,  22,  221,  224,  225,  228,  336 
Amadigi,  70,  233,  234,  235,  252 
Ariadne,  130,  134,  249,  250 
Ariodante,  134,  250,  251,  338 
Arminio,  140,  253 
Atalanta,  138,  252 
Berenice,  140,  253 
Deidainia,  158,  222,  254 
Ezio,  114,  246 

Farariiondo,  147  note,  148,  253 
Flavio,  95,  238 
Florida nte,  90,  237,  238 
Florindo  nnd  Daphne,  26 
Giulio  Cesare,  95,  238,  239 
Giustino,  140,  222,  253 
Imeneo,  158,  165,  222,  254 
Lotario,  iii,  112,  244,  245 
Muzio  Scevola,  90,  237 
Nero,  23 
Orestes,  134 
Orlando,  1 19,  247-249 
Otione,  91,  238 
Partenope,  1 13,  244,  245 
Pastor  Fido,  11,  64,  134,  226,  235 
Poro,  114,  245,  246 
Radamisto,  88,  222,  235-237,  253 
Riccardo,  105,  242 
Rinaldo,  57,    78,    225,    227,    228, 

230-233,  252,  346 

Operas    and    other    Dramatic 

Works — {continued) 
Rodelinda,  96,  240,  241,  242,  243 
Rodrigo,  29,  225-227,  338 
Scipio,  96,  114,  241,  242 
Serse,  147  note,  148,  253 
Siila,  70,  235 
Si  roe,  107,  243 
Sosarme,  114,  247 
Tamerlano,  96,  239 
Terpsichore,  134,  338 
Teseo,  64,  233,  234,  260 
Tolomeo,  107,  243 

Oratorios,  Cantatas,  etc. 

Aci,   Galatea  e  Polifemo,  43,  228, 

232,  261,  269 
Acis  and  Galatea,  82,  83,  II4,  1 17, 

255,  267,  269-270,  346 
Alexander  Bahis,  198,  316,  317 
Alexander''s  Feast,    136,    138,    165, 

1S6,  255,  274,  275 
Allegro  edil  Penseroso,  II,  157,  162, 

164,  165,  255,  2S2,  283 
Athaliah,  127,  132,  136,  273,  274, 

Belshazzar,  182,  185,  187,312,  313 
Choice  of  Hercules,  216,  321,  322 
Deborah,  119,  120,  136,  254,   271, 

272,  273,  312,  337 
Elbing  Cantata,  144 
Esther,  81,   82,   83,  I14-I17,   136, 

165,  267-269,  271,  302,334 
Hercules,  185,  200,  309-312 
Israel  in  Egypt,  151,  152,  153,  190, 

266,  274,  278-281,  302,340-344 
Jephtha,    186  note,  208,  220,  228, 

Joseph,  181,  182,  308,  309,  313 
[osJma,   198,    199,    228,   266,   317, 

Judas  Maccabcezts,    192-196,    198, 

205,  216,  269,  314,  315 
Jupiter  in  Argos,  153 
Messiah,   The,  40,   161,   163,  166- 

171,    174,    177,    178,   200,  203, 

205-208,     217,     274,    284-301, 

302,  337 
Occasional  Oratorio,  190,  191,  313, 

314,  337 
Ode  for   Queen  Anne's  Birthday, 
69,  262 



Oratorios,     Cantatas,      etc. — 

Ode  for  St.  Cecilia's  Day,  155,  165, 

2S1,  282 
Parnasso  in  Festa,  132,  274 
Passion,  Brockes,  77,  262-264,  267, 

268,  272 
Passion,  St.  John,  21,  257 
Resun-ezione,  La,  40,  227,  259-261 
Saul,  149,  152,  158,  275-278,  312 
Sa7nson,  174,    176,    177,  200,   202, 

205,  213,  254,  303-306 
Semele,  179,  180,  307,  308,  338 
Soloi?ion,  199,200,202,216,  318,319 
Susafuia,  199,  216,  318-320,  337 
Theodora,  205,  206,  320,  321 
Trionfo  del  Tempo,  II,  40, 140,  215, 

225,  227,  261,  275,  324,  335 
Triumph  of  Time  and  Truth,  The, 

215,  261,  275,  324,  325,  337 

Chamber  Music 

Cantatas,  40,  43,  232 

Chamber  duets,  62,  291,  292,  295 

French  chansons,  43 

German  songs,  62 

Harpsichord  pieces,  62,  84,  327,  328 

Sonatas,  328,  330 

Spanish  song,  43 

Trios,  6,  327,  329,  330 

Church  Music 

Anthems — 

Chandos,  82,  264-266 
Coronation,  105,  270-272 
Dettingen,  179,  307 
Foundhng,  203 
Funeral,  147,  153,  275 
Wedding,  132,  138,  274,  275 

Dixit  Dominus,  32,  229,  257 

Jubilate,  Utrecht,  69,  262 

Laudate  pueri  (Halle),  13 

Laudate pueri  {Rome),  32,  257 

JVisi  Dominus,  257 

Te  Deums — 
Chandos,  82,  266 
Dettingen,  179,  275,  307 
Utrecht,  69,  272,  307 

Orchestral  Music 

Concertos — 
Grand,  332 

Orchestral  Music — {continued) 

Hautboy,  62,  331,  332 

Organ,  136,  333-335 
Fireworks  Music,  200-202,  336 
Minuets,  104 
Overtures,  336,  337 
Water  Music,  73,  335 

Doubtful  Works 
Ack,  Hen ,   mich   armen  Siinder, 


Erlosung  des  Volks  Gottes,  Die,  13 
Magnificat  (Erba),  45  note 
Te  Detim  (Urio),  45 
Ungerathene  Sohn,  Der,  13 

Handel,  Valentine,  2 
Hankey,  Sir  T.,  205 
Hanover,  Handel's  visits  to,  49,  62, 

76,  III 
Harcourt,    Lord,    letter    on   English 

musical  taste,  114 
"  Harmonious  Blacksmith,  The,"  84, 


Harmony  in  an  Uproar,  128 

Harris,  James,  185,  186  7iote 

Harris,  Thomas,  186  note,  188 

Harris,  William,  186  note,  188, 
190,  191 

Hasse,  Johann  Adolph,  his  opinion 
of  Carestini,  130;  his  influence 
upon  Handel,  244 

Hautboy  concertos  (Handel),  62, 
331,  332 

Hawkins,  Sir  John,  description  of 
Handel  at  Hanover,  49  ;  and  at 
Burlington  House,  67  ;  his 
opinion  of  "  See,  the  conquering 
hero  comes,"  199 ;  and  of 
Handel's  religious  views,  219 

Hawkins,  Letitia  Matilda,  her  opinion 
of  Beard,  175  ;  her  story  of  "  See, 
the  conquering  hero  comes,"  198 

Haydn,  Franz  Joseph,  his  opinion 
oi  Joshua,  199 

Haym,  Nicola,  64,  86 

Hearne,  Thomas,  127 

Heidegger,  John  James,  undertakes 
management  of  opera,  65  ;  his 
career,  65 ;  writes  libretto  of 
Amadigi,  70 ;  his  partnership 
with     Handel,      108  ;      deserts 



Handel,     126;     Handel    writes 

operas  for,  147 
Herbert,     Lady    Henrietta,    marries 

Beard,  175 
He rcu/es  (Ha.r\de\),  185,  200,  309-312 
Hervey,     Lord,    his    description    of 

the  rival  operas,  131 
Highwaymen,  54,  83 
Hill,  Aaron,  57 

Hill,  John,  sings  in  Messiah,  68 
Holmes,  William,  invites  Handel  to 

Oxford,  126 
Horns,  Handel's  use  of,  237,  239 
Hughes,  John,  60,  63 
Humphreys,  Samuel,  83,  116 
Hurlothrumbo  (Johnson),  1 12,  1 13 
Hydaspes  (Mancini),  56,  57 

Idomenco  (Mozart),  253 
Ivieneo  (Handel),  158,  165,  222,  254 
Innocent  xi,  Pope,  258 
Innocent  xii.  Pope,  258 
Iphigenia  in  Tauris  (Gluck),  242 
Is7-ael  in  Egypt  (Handel),   1 51-153, 
190,  266,  274,  278-281 

James,  the  Old  Pretender,  109 

Janson,  161 

"Jenkins's  ear,"  war  of,  154,  178 

Jennens,  Charles,  writes  libretto  of 
Said,  149 ;  his  friendship  with 
Handel,  il>.  ;  his  character,  150; 
dissatisfaction  with  music  of 
Messiah,  178 ;  writes  libretto 
of  Belshazzar,  1 82,  183,  312  ; 
his  arrangement  of  U Allegro, 
157,  164,  282;  his  Messiah 
libretto,  149,  287,  288 

Jephtha  (Handel),  186  note,  208, 
220,  228,  322-324 

Jews,  patronise  y/<.iaj  Maccabceus,  197 

Johann  Adolf,  Duke  of  Saxe- 
Weissenfels,  3,  5 

Johann  Wilhelm,  Elector  Palatine, 
Handel's  visits  to,  49,  61  ;  his 
character,  49 ;  correspondence 
with  Elector  of  Hanover  and 
Electress  Sophia,  51 

Johnson,  Samuel,  produces  Htirlo- 
thriunbo,  112 

Joseph  (Handel),  181,  182,  308,  309, 

Joshua    (Handel),    198,     199,     228, 

266,  317,  318 
Jubilate,  Utrecht  (Handel),  69,  262 
Judas  Maccabctus  (Handel),  192-196, 

198,  205,  216,  269,  314,  315 
Jupiter  (Sheridan),  197 
Jupiter  in  Argos  (Handel),  153 

Keiser,  Reinhard,  at  Hamburg,  16 ; 
Handel  succeeds  him  at  Ham- 
burg opera,  21  ;  gives  libretto  of 
Alinira  to  Handel,  22 ;  resets 
Almira,  23  ;  his  music  compared 
with  Handel's,  224  ;  his  influence 
upon  Handel,  261,  263 

Kerl,  Johann  Caspar,  280 

Kielmansegg,  Baron,  meets  Handel 
in  Venice,  48  ;  reconciles  Handel 
to  George  i,  71 

Kielmansegg,  Baroness,  71 

Kinnoull,  George,  Earl  of,  his 
anecdote  of  J/(j5j/a^,  177 

Knatchbull,  Sir  William,  164 

La  Feve,  Mile,  57 

Lambe,  William,  sings  in   Messiah, 

1 68,  170 
Lampe,  John  Frederick,  141 
Laiidatepueri  [W^TiA^i),  13,  32,  257 
Leibniz,    G.    W.    von.    Baron,    his 
friendship  with  Sophia  Charlotte 
of  Prussia,  8  ;    praises  Caroline 
of  Ansbach's  singing,  62 
L'Epine,  Margherita  de,  55 
Lincoln's  Inn  Fields,  duels  fought  in, 
53;   theatre  in,    106,    126,    130, 
131,  134,  155,  156 
London,   Plandel's  first  visit  to,  52  ; 
social  conditions  in,  ib.  ;   opera 
in,  55  ;  concerts  in,  59  ;  Handel's 
second  visit  to,  64 
Lotario  (Handel),  iii,  112,  244,  245 
Lotti,  Antonio,  131,  346 
Louisa,   Princess,   Handel   composes 

lessons  for,  84 
Lovat,  Simon,  Lord,  his  trial,  192 
Loves  of  Ergasto,  The  (Greber),  55 
Liibeck,  Handel's  visit  to,  17,  18 
Luxborough,    Lady,    describes     her 
steward's  visit  to  Judas  Macca- 
baus,    194  ;   refers   to   Handel's 
interest  in  street  cries,  254 



Maclaine,  accompanies  Handel  to 
Dublin,  162 

Maclaine,  Mrs.,  sings  in  Messiah, 
169,  170 

MacSwiney,  Owen,  manages  Queen's 
Theatre,  64  ;  flies  from  England, 
ib  ;  conducts  season  of  English 
opera,  85 

Magnificat  (Erba),  45  note 

Mainwaring,  John,  references  to  his 
biography  of  Handel,  3-5,  9,  10, 
20,  24,  25,  29,  30,  37,  41,  46 
note,  90  7iote,  149,  i6i 

Manchester,  Charles,  Duke  of,  meets 
Handel  in  Venice,  39 ;  corres- 
pondence with  Vanbrugh,  55,  56 

Marchesini,  sings  for  Handel,  148 

Marlborough,  Henrietta,  Duchess  of, 
patronises  Bononcini,  93 

Marlborough,  Sarah,  Duchess  of, 
her  description  of  the  Duke  of 
Montagu,  66  7iote ;  her  story 
of  George  11,  146 

Martinelli,  Vincenzo,  describes  Lady 
Brown's  parties,  184 

Mason,  John,  sings  in  Messiah,  168 

Mattei,  Filippo,  collaborates  in  Mitzio 
Scevola,  90 

Mattheson,  Johann,  meets  Handel 
at  Hamburg,  16  ;  production  of 
his  Cleopatra,  19 ;  duel  with 
Handel,  ib.  ;  criticises  Handel's 
John  Passion,  2i  ;  sings  in 
Handel's  Almira,  22 ;  sets 
Brockes's  Passion,  77  ;  his  note 
on  Handel's  Passion,  77  note ; 
Handel  refuses  to  contribute  to 
his  Ehren-Pforte,  83  ;  his  story  of 
Handel's  abduction  ofa  nun,  1 10  ; 
criticises    Handel's   borrowings, 

Merighi,     Antonia,    Mrs.     Delany's 

description    of,     III;    sings    at 

Haymarket,  139 
Merlini,     Annibale,     his      letter     to 

Ferdinand  dei  Medici,  32,  339 
Messiah,  The,  40,  161,  163,  1 66-171, 

174,    177,    178,  200,  203,    205- 

208,     217,    274,    284-301,    302, 

Michaelsen,   Johann    Friedrich,    63, 

Middlesex,  Lord,  manages  concerts, 
147  note  ;  manages  opera,  165  ; 
collapse  of  his  management, 
.    ^83 

Milan,  Handel's  visit  to,  109 

Miller,  James,  writes  libretto  of 
Joseph,  181 

Milton,  John,  his  V Allegro  adapted 
by  Jennens,  157,  282;  his 
Samson  Agonistes  adapted  by 
Hamilton,  174,  303 ;  Handel 
compared  with,  212 

Minuets  (Handel),  104 

Mirandola,  Duke  of,  339 

Mohocks,  53 

Montagnana,  Antonio,  121,  126,  134, 
139,  148,  246 

Montagu,  Elizabeth,  letter  on  the 
earthquake,  204 

Montagu,  John,  Duke  of,  his  taste 
for  practical  joking,  66  ;  plays 
trick  on  Heidegger,  ib.  ;  Joseph 
dedicated  to  him,  182 

Montagu,  Lady  Mary  Wortley,  her 
description  of  court  at  Hanover, 
76 ;  account  of  Beard's  marriage, 


Montesquieu,  Charles  de  Secondat, 
Baron  de,  his  visit  to  England, 

Morell,  Thomas,  writes  libretto  of 
Judas  MaccahcEu.s,  192 ;  his 
description  of  Handel's  method 
of  working,  ib.  ;  writes  libretto 
of  Alexander  Bahis,  198; 
libretto  of  Solomon  attributed 
to  him,  199  ;  writes  libretto  of 
Theodora,  205,  320  ;  his  conver- 
sation with  Handel  on  it,  ib.  ; 
translates  Triumph  of  Time  and 
7>i<//z,  215,  324;  Handel  resents 
his  criticisms,  315 

Mozart,  W.  A.  von,  his  Idomeneo, 
253  ;  tribute  to  Handel,  275 ; 
additional  accompaniments  to 
Messiah,  289.  291-293,  296, 
299  ;  his  Entfiihrung,  320 

Muffat,  A.  G.,  346 

Muzio  Scevola  (Handel  and  others), 
90.  237 

Naples,  Handel's  visit  to,  41 



Neal's  Music'jHall,  Dublin,  162  note, 

Nero  (Handel),  23 
Newton,    Sir   Isaac,    his   opinion   of 

opera,  88 
Nicolini,  56,  58,  70 
Nisi Donihitis  {\\ilt\Aq\),  257 
Nuviitore  (Porta),  88 

Occasional   Oratorio   (Handel),    190, 

191,  313,  314,  337 
Ode    for    Queeji     Anne's    Birthday 

(Handel),  69,  262 
Ode  for  St.  Cecilia! s  Day  (Handel), 

155,  165,  281,  282 
Ombrosi,  Luca,  31 
Opera,  Handel's  treatment  of,  221 
Oratorio,  Handel's  treatment  of,  256 ; 

its   rise  and  development,  257- 

Orazio  (Tosi),  43  note 
Orchestration,    Handel's,    239,    243, 

245,  277,  288,  293,  316 
Orestes  (Handel),  134 
Organ,    Handel's   organ-playing,    18 

note,  145,  213,  333 
Organ  Concertos  (Handel),  136,333- 

Ottoboni,  Cardinal,  Handel  plays  at 
his  house,  33,  339;  his  Academy, 
33  ;  description  of  one  of  his 
musical  entertainments,  34; 
Handel's  contest  with  D.  Scar- 
latti at  his  house,  38  ;  Resur- 
rezione  and  Trionfo  del  Tempo 
produced  under  his  auspices,  40  ; 
Steflfani  and  Handel  meet  at  his 
house,  44  ;  Handel  visits  him  in 
1729,  109 
Overtures  (Handel),  336,  337 
Oxford,  Handel's  visit  to,  126 ; 
Athaliah  produced  at,  137  ; 
Samson  performed  at,  176 

Pallandt,  Baron  von,  39 

Parnasso  itt  Festa{aznAe\),  132,  274 

Partenope  (Handel),  113,  244,  245 

Pasquiti  (Fielding),  139 

Pasquini,  Bernardo,  35 

Passion,  Brockes  (Handel),  77,  262- 

264,  267,  268,  272 
Passion,  Matthew  (Bach),  285 

Passion,  St.  John  (Handel),  21,  257 

Pastor  Fido,  II  (Handel),  64,  134, 
226,  23s 

Pellegrini,  Valeriano,  sings  in  Agrip- 
pina,  48  ;  in  Pastor  Fido,  64 

Pembroke,  Mary,  Countess  of,  sup- 
ports Cuzzoni,  99  ;  her  letter  to 
Lady  Sundon,  loi  ;  epigram  on, 

Penelope  (Galuppi),  165 

Pepusch,  John  Christopher,  plays  at 
Britton's  concerts,  60 ;  musical 
director  at  Canons,  81  ;  dis- 
placed by  Handel,  82  ;  arranges 
music  of  Beggar^ s  Opera,  106 ; 
satirised  in  Harmony  in  an 
Uproar,  129 

Peri,  Jacopo,  257 

Perti,  Giacomo  Antonio,  28,  36 

Peterborough,  Charles,  Earl  of,  his 
attachment  to  Anastasia  Robin- 
son, 71,91;  horsewhips  Senesino, 


Pilkington,  Sir  Lionel,  letter  on 
Handel's  Italian  journey,  109 

Pirker,  Marianne,  207 

Pirro  e  Demeirio  (Scarlatti),  56,  57 

Pitt,  William,  Earl  of  Chatham, 
compared  with  Handel,  209 

Polly  (Gay),  112 

Polwarth,  Patrick,  Baron,  discovers 
Handel's  early  trios,  6 

Pope,  Alexander,  meets  Handel  at 
Burlington  House,  67 ;  invited 
to  Chiswick  by  Lord  Burlington, 
68  ;  satirises  Duke  of  Chandos, 
79  ;  libretto  of  Esther  attributed 
to,  83,  267  ;  his  lines  on  Figg, 
the  prize-fighter,  103 ;  allusion 
to  Handel  in  Dunciad,  173 

Poro  (Handel),  114,  245,  246 

Porpora,  Niccola  Antonio,  appointed 
musical  director  of  "  Opera  of 
the  Nobility,"  126 ;  produces 
his  Ariadne,  130;  David,  136; 
and    Festa  cTIineneo,  139 

Porta,  Giovanni,  production  of  his 
Numitore,  88 

Pratolino,  Prince  Ferdinand's  court 
at,  27  ;  Handel's  visit  to,  28 ; 
Prince  Ferdinand's  illness  at, 



Prevost,  Abbe,  refers  to  Handel's 
refusal  of  a  degree  at  Oxford, 
127  note ;  describes  Farinelli 
furore,  134;  refers  to  Mile. 
Salle,  137;  defends  Handel's 
borrowings,  347,  348 

Prior,  Matthew,  his  epigram  on 
Britton,  61 

Prize-fights,  103 

Programme  Music,  Handel's  employ- 
ment of,  251,  312,  313,  337,  338 

Protoparentum  Crimen  et  Fcena,  259 

Puliti,  Leto,  29 

Purcell,  Henry,  his  treatment  of 
recitative  compared  with 
Handel's,  229 ;  possible  in- 
fluence of  Dido  and  ALneas  on 
Handel,  246 ;  his  influence  on 
Handel,  262,  319,  321 

Queensberry,  Duchess  of,  112 
Quin,   Dr.,  his  account  of  Handel's 
reception  in  Dublin,  167 

Radamisto  (Handel),    88,  222,  235- 

237>  253 
Regnard,  J.  F.,  his  criticism  of  opera 

at  Hamburg,  15 
Reinholt,  Thomas,  191 
Resurrezione,  La  (Handel),  40,  227, 

Rheingold,  Das  (Wagner),  277 
Riccardo  (Handel),  105,  242 
Rich,  John,  176,  206,  338 
Riemschneider,  iii 
Rinaldo  (Handel),   57,   78,   225,  227, 

228,  230-233,  252,  346 
Robinson,  Anastasia,  71.  91 
Robinson,    Percy,    references   to   his 

Handel  and  his  Orbit,  45  7ioie, 

77  note,  345,  346,  348 
Rochetti,  117 
Rockstro,  W,    S.,    references   to  his 

biography   of  Handel,    20,    105, 

162  note,  191,  223 
Rodelinda  (Handel),  96,  240-243 
Rodrigo     (Handel),      29,     225-227, 

338  .         . 

Rolli,  Paolo,  his  epigram  on  Ariosti, 
9  note  ;  appointed  poet  to  Royal 
Academy  of  ^Tusic.  86  ;  writes 
libretto  of  Z>(?z^a;«/a,  158 

Rome,  Handel's  visits  to,  32,  40,  44, 
109  ;  oratorio  in,  258,  259 

Roner,  Andreas,  63 

Rosamond  (Clayton),  57 

Rossi,  Giacomo,  57,  64 

Roubiliac,  L.  F.,  his  statue  of 
Handel  erected  at  Vauxhall, 
149 ;  his  monument  to  Handel 
in  Westminster  Abbey,  218 

Royal  Academy  of  Music,  foundation 
of,  85  ;  collapse,  107 

Ruspoli,  Marquis  di,  Handel  meets 
him  at  Rome,  35  ;  stays  in  his 
house,  40 

Russel,  185 

Rutland,  Duke  of,  214 

Salle,  Mile.,  134,  137,  250,  338 

Samso7i  (Handel),  174,  176,  177, 
200,  202,  205,  213,  254,  303- 

Santayana,  George,  his  Interpreta- 
tions of  Poetry  and  Religion 
quoted,  286 

Saul  (Handel),  149,  152,  158,  275- 
278,  312 

Saussure,  Cesar  de,  describes  female 
prize  -  fight,  103  ;  describes 
George  ii's  coronation,  105 

Scarlatti,  Alessandro,  his  friendship 
with  Ferdinand  dei  Medici,  28  ; 
meets  Handel,  35  ;  admitted  to 
Arcadian  Academy,  ib.  ;  de- 
scription of  his  performance, 
36 ;  leaves  Rome  for  Naples, 
41  ;  directs  musical  entertain- 
ment at  Naples,  42  ;  his  Pirro  e 
Demetrio  produced  in  London, 
56,  57  ;  his  influence  on  Handel, 
228  ;  his  oratorios,  258 

Scarlatti,  Domenico,  meets  Handel 
at  Venice,  38  ;  his  "contest  with 
Handel  at  Rome,  ib. 

Scheibe,  Johann  Adolph,  criticises 
Handel's  borrowings,  347 

Schmidt,  Johann  Christoph,  brought 
to  England  by  Handel,  77  ; 
accompanies  Handel  to  Italy, 
129;  his  quarrel  with  Handel 
216  ;  and  reconciliation,  217 

Schoelcher,  Victor,  reference  to  his 
biography  of  Handel,  191 



Schulenburg,  Ehrengard  Melusine 
von,  Duchess  of  Kendal,  71 

Schulenburg,  Melusine  von,  Countess 
of  Chesterfield,  87,  180 

Scipio  (Handel),  96,  114,  241, 

Scots,  Handel's  dislike  of,  281 

Semele  (Handel),  179,  180,  307,  30S, 

Senesino,  sings  at  Venice,  37 ; 
engaged  by  Handel,  86 ; 
Burney's  description  of  his  voice, 
89  note ;  sings  in  Floridante, 
90 ;  in  Giulio  Cesare,  95 ; 
is  horsewhipped  by  Lord 
Peterborough,  ib.  ;  his  triumphs 
in  Handel's  operas,  109 ; 
Handel  refuses  to  engage  him, 
no;  re-engaged  by  Handel, 
114;  sings  in  Foro,  ib.  ;  in 
Orlando,  119,  248;  deserts 
Handel,  126;  criticised  by 
Arbuthnot,  130;  sings  at  King's 
Theatre,  134 ;  his  admiration 
for  FarineUi,  135 

Serpent,  Handel's  use  of,  202 

Serse  (Handel),  147  note,  148,  253 

Servandoni,  Chevalier,  200,  202, 

Shaftesbury,  Anthony,  Earl  of,  his 
biographical  sketch  quoted,  108, 
119,  141,  145,  147  note; 
Handel's  message  to,  164 ;  his 
letters  referring  to  Handel,  188, 

Shaftesbury,  Susannah,  Countess  of, 
letter  about  Handel,  185  ; 
present  at  performance  of 
Sttsanna,  199 

Sharp,  Samuel,  consulted  by  Handel, 
212,  214 

She  Stoops  to  Conquer  (Goldsmith), 

Sheridan,  Richard  Brinsley,  satirises 
Handel  in  Jupiter,  197  ;  refers 
to  Ariadne  minuet  in  Critic, 

Shield,  William,  his  story  of  Haydn, 

Siciliani,  Handel's  employment  of 

Silla  (Handel),  70,  235 

Siroe  (Handel),  107,  243 

Smith,  John  Christopher,  befriended 

by  Handel,   77  ;   assists  Handel 

at  his  concerts,  213  ;   reconciles 

his  father  to  Handel,  217 
Smock-runs,  103 
Smollett,    Tobias,    refers  to    Handel 

in     his     Advice,      185 ;     writes 

Alceste,  206 
Smyth,  James,  215,  217 
Solomon   (Handel),    199,    200,    202, 

216,  318,  319 
Sonatas  (Handel),  32S,  330 
Songs  (Handel) — 
French,  43 
German,  62 
Spanish,  43 
Sophia,     Electress      of      Hanover, 

Handel     introduced      to,      49  ; 

Elector     Palatine's     letter     to, 

Sophia  Charlotte,  Queen  of  Prussia, 

her     court    at    Berlin,    7 ;    her 

friendship     with     Leibniz,     8 ; 

her  influence   upon   Caroline   of 

Ansbach,  62 
Sosarme,  (Handel)  114,  247 
Spectator,  The,  satirises  Italian  opera, 

56  ;  attacks  Rinaldo,  58 
Stanley,  John,  assists  Handel  at  his 

concerts,  214 
Steele,  Sir  Richard,  praises  Nicolini, 

56  ;  satirises  Kinaldo,  57 
Steffani,  Agostino,  meets  Handel  in 

Rome,     44 ;     leaves    Italy,     46 

note ;      welcomes      Handel      to 

Hanover,    49 ;   his   death,    109 ; 

his  influence  on  Handel,  230 
Stella,  Giorgio,  48 
Strada  del  P6,  Signer,  141,  148 
Strada  del  P6,  Anna,   no,    iii,  114, 

119,  126,  133,  140 
Street-cries,     Handel's     interest     in, 


Stukely,  William,  records  a  meeting 

with  Newton,  88 
Sullivan,  Sir  Arthur,    his  parody  of 

Handel,  230 
Sundon,     Lady,    Lady    Pembroke's 

letter  to,  loi 
Susanna  (Handel),    199,   216,    318- 

320,  337 



Synge,  Edward,  Bishop  of  Elphin, 
his  opinion  of  Messiah,  171 

Talbot,    Catherine,    her    opinion   of 

Samsoti,     176 ;     disapproves    of 

Messiah  in  a  theatre,   177  note  ; 

her     criticism     of     Belshazzar, 

Tavierlano  (Handel),  96,  239 
Tarquini,  Vittoria,  31 
Tatler,   The,   satirises   Italian  opera, 

56  ;  attacks  Rinaldo,  58 
Taust,     Dorothea,     marries    George 

Handel,    2 ;    her  character,   1 1  ; 

Handel's  visits  to,   26,    49,  63, 

iio:  her  death,  no 
Taylor,  Sedley,  345 
Te  Dcum  (Handel) — 
Chandos,  82,  266 
Dettingen,  179,  275,  307 
Urio,  45  note 
Utrecht,  69,  262,  307 
Telemann,    Georg     Philipp,     meets 

Handel   at   Halle,    12  ;    and   at 

Weissenfels,  ib. 
Terpsichore  (Handel),  134,  338 
Teseo     (Handel),     64,      233,      234, 

Tesi,  Vittoria,  30 
Theodora   (Handel),    205,    206,   320, 

Thornyris,  65 
Thoresby,  Ralph,  61 
Tolojiieo  (Handel),  107,  243 
Trionfo  del  Tempo,  11  (Handel),  40, 

140,  215,    225,    227,    261,   275, 

324>  335 
Trios  (Handel),  6,  327,  329,  330 
Tristan  mid  Isolde  (Wagner),  281 
Triumph  of  Titne  and  Truth,    The, 

215,  261,  275,  324,  325,  337 
Tunbridge  Wells,  Handel's  visits  to, 

138,  188,  216 

Urio  Te  Deutn,  45  note,  345 
Utrecht     Te     Deiwt     and    Jubilate 
(Handel),  69 

Valeriano.     See  Pellegrini 

Vanbrugh,  Sir  John,  builds  Queen's 
Theatre,  55  ;  his  correspondence 
with  Duke  of  Manchester,  56 

Vauxhall  Gardens,  Roubiliac's  statue 

of    Handel     erected    at,      149 ; 

rehearsal  of  Handel's  Fireworks 

Music  at,  202 
Venice,   Handel's   visits   to,   36,  46, 

109,  no 
Vernon,  Mrs.,  entertains  Handel  in 

Dublin,  168 
Vinci,    Leonardo,    his    influence    on 

Handel,  244 

Wagner,  Richard,  his  giants  in  Das 
Rheingold  compared  with 
Handel's  Goliath,  277  ;  Tristan 
compared  with  Israel  in  Egypt, 
281  ;  Lohengrin  prelude  antici- 
pated by  Handel,  294 

Wake,  William,  Archbishop  of 
Canterbury,  105 

Walpole,  Catherine,  Lady,  99 

Walpole,  Horace,  his  description  of 
a  highway  robbery,  54  ;  of 
Baroness  Kielmansegg,  72  note  ; 
his  observations  on  Saiyison, 
174,  176;  describes  Lady 
Brown's  parties,  184 ;  refers  to 
Handel's  paralysis,  187  7iote  ;  to 
Jacobite  rebellion,  190 ;  de- 
scribes celebration  of  Peace  of 
Aix-la-Chapelle,  201  ;  mentions 
earthquakes,  204 

Walpole,  Sir  Horatio,  lampooned  by 
Craftsman,  120  ;  his  remark  on 
Duke  of  Devonshire,  160 

Walpole,  Sir  Robert,  lampooned  by 
Craftsman,  120  ;  national  revolt^ 
against  his  policy,  154;  char- 
acteristics of  his  era,  209 

Walsh,  John,  346 

Ward,  Edward,  describes  Britton's 
concerts,  60,  61 

Ward,  Joseph,  sings  in  Messiah, 

Warren,  Dr.,  217 

Water  Music  (Handel),  73,  335 

Water-Parties,  73 

Wedding  Anthems  (Handel),  132, 
138,  274,  275 

Weissenfels,  Duke  Johann  Adolf 
moves  his  court  to,  3  ;  Handel's 
visits  to,  4,  12 



Wentwoith,      William,      Lord,      his 

anecdote    of    George    ii,     146; 

letter  relating  to  Handel,  152 
Wesley,     John,      his     influence     on 

English  society,  211 
Westmorland,         Lady,         supports 

Handel,  180 
Whitchurch,  80,  81 

Wiel,  Taddeo,  46 

Wyche,    John,    Handel   gives  music 
lessons  to  his  son,  20 

Zachow,  Friedrich  Wilhelm, 

instructs  Handel,  5 ;  Handel 
befriends  his  widow,  77 

Zappi,  Giambattista,  36 

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